PUBLISHED: 8:07 PM on Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Local government conference gathers municipal officials
Fairbanks - More than 350 local elected officials and municipal employees will assemble this week in Fairbanks for the Alaska Municipal League's 57th Annual Local Government Conference. One of the main purposes of this conference is for Alaska's municipal officials to discuss and create a consensus on statewide municipal issues that the Legislature needs to address this upcoming Legislative Session.

AML President Tim Beck, Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblyman, said, "This is a really interesting time in Alaska politics. Alaska's municipalities need to continue to work together to create clear and concise decisions for the Legislature to work upon."

Many municipalities across the state share similar burdens at the local government level.

The Public Employees' Retirement System and the Teachers' Retirement System fueled many debates in the legislature this last session.

While there was a lot of work done, municipalities still prefer that the Legislature do more to provide fiscal stability across PERS/TRS member municipalities.

Equally as important to PERS/TRS is Municipal Revenue Sharing. As costs to provide basic municipal services continue upward, cities are forced to pass this burden onto tax payers. The state has been fair in recent years by allocating one-time appropriations to municipalities. As these appropriations do help keep taxes down, the fiscal certainty is never assured in advance. A steady, reliable Revenue Sharing plan is one approach our elected officials would like to see implemented this upcoming session.

The specifics of these two topics are certain to bring major debate this week and will be highlighted Wednesday, November 7 during two separate workshops.

Michael Lamb, CFO for the Fairbanks North Star Borough, considered one of the State's top experts on PERS/TRS, will give a dynamic presentation that covers where problems lie and solutions for moving forward to fix the growing deficit.

"I have been consistent in my belief that services are best provided at the most local level possible. It is the most responsive level of government that can best prioritize the services and projects supported by Alaskans. Today, there are certain extraordinary circumstances and costs that have a real negative impact on our ability to meet Alaskans' needs," Said Governor Palin to AML last legislative session.

As our State Legislators continue to put in overtime on the Petroleum Profits Tax, our municipal officials continue their efforts to ensure a stronger future for Alaska.

A future that will bring improved economic growth, diversity and fiscal certainty to all communities in the 49th State.

"This conference is the best opportunity for our State's elected municipal officials to address their community's problems on a statewide level. The decisions made during this conference help shape Alaska's future," said Beck.

The Alaska Municipal League is a voluntary, nonprofit, nonpartisan, statewide organization of over 140 cities, boroughs and unified municipalities in Alaska, representing over 97 percent of Alaska's residents.