Monthly Archives: December 2009

Guest Commentary on Property Taxes and Churches in Anchorage

I retired from the Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) after 29 years of service and had some opportunity to be aware of some of the fire statistics and fire-loading statistics. AFD is rated by the Insurance Services Organization (ISO), which is a standards evaluating firm used by many entities nationwide. ISO ratings for fire departments are based on certain criteria including water supply, size of department/equipment/manpower/training, fire codes and enforcement and communications, along with other details. The result of their evaluation is a rating from 10 (unprotected – no fire protection) to 1 (the fire department is exceptionally competent).

AFD has achieved an astounding 2 rating. The rating interprets into the loss ratio used by many insurance companies for establishing their rates. For the most part, the ISO rating interprets fairly directly for homeowners insurance rates; businesses are usually rated individually with consideration given for their specific hazard-of-business and the local fire department capability/rating.

Having said all of that…churches are one of the highest and most problematic hazards in any city. Read the rest of this entry

Linking Land Use & Transportation Wed, Thurs, Dec 15, 16

Sam Seskin, national expert on transportation and urban planning will be in Anchorage next week, and will offer two public presentations. See below.

There is also a smaller group debriefing Tuesday, Dec 15 from 3:30 – 5:30 to discuss the outcomes of Anchorage’s computer modeling for the various inputs staff worked up. If you will attend the 3:30 debriefing, please RSVP to Julie.Jessen

Tuesday, December 15th at 6:00pm, Sam will present land use and transportation planning in Portland and how it relates to Anchorage. This presentation will be followed by a question and answer session intended to spur discussions on conceptual planning practices and approaches. Read the rest of this entry

Transit board delays support of Fairview Freeway

Last [Friday] night, H2H staff asked Anchorage’s Transit Advisory Board for a resolution supporting the project, explaining Anchorage needed to protect its funding from other big projects such as Juneau Access and the Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges.

They called the freeway a “springboard for an increased transit system,” explaining that we could to build the freeway now, and then in 10, 15 or perhaps 20 years, build out transit as, perhaps, a Bus Rapid Transit system.

The Transit Advisory Board said they’d like to hear more about how and when transit will be improved, mentioning the vast cost differences ie $700 million for three miles of freeway vs $1 million per bus route per year. They questioned how commuters would get around Anchorage once they got here, without improved transit. Read the rest of this entry

New Website on Predatory Lending

There will be 2.4 million foreclosures in 2009 along with 9 million foreclosures between 2009-2012, according to the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). CRL also estimates that 69 million homes will lose property value because of nearby foreclosures for a total property value loss of $502 billion.

The Progressive States Network is working with its partners and leading experts to promote reforms to stem the foreclosure crisis and put in place reforms to discourage predatory lending practices in the future.Through coordinated, strategic support, PSN and our allies will be working to introduce and advance legislation to address foreclosure and predatory lending reforms, providing model legislation, policy analysis, messaging and more – all of which has been gathered and will be constantly updated on our Foreclosure & Predatory Lending web page. Read the rest of this entry

Energy Costs Hurting Schools, Communities

New report shows staggering increases

ANCHORAGE – As school districts and local governments across the state are facing budget shortfalls, a report released today by Rep. Pete Petersen (D-Anchorage) shows that Alaska’s high energy costs are making these problems worse.  Petersen serves on the House Energy Committee which is working to create a statewide energy policy and on Tuesday will be taking testimony from mayors from across the state about their communities energy needs.

“High fuel prices have caused communities and school districts to consider painful cuts to services,” said Petersen.  “I look forward to hearing from the mayors about the individual energy needs of their communities.”

While the Anchorage School District is facing up to $15 million in budget cuts, the report shows that ASD heating fuel costs have risen from less than $2.5 million in fiscal year 2004 to more than $5.6 million in FY2009.  ASD vehicle fuel costs rose from less than $1 million in FY2006 to more than $1.5 million in FY2009.  The Mat-Su School District, whose budget woes have lead to a labor dispute with their classified employees, has seen its heating fuel costs rise from less than $1 million in FY2006 to more than $1.5 million in FY2009, and their vehicle fuel costs go from $119,540 in FY2008 to $177,299 in FY2009. Read the rest of this entry