ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage residents will be given an opportunity to vote on a proposed property tax hike to fund technology upgrades for the city’s police department.
The Anchorage Assembly voted Tuesday to place the levy on the April 6 municipal ballot, Anchorage Daily News reported.
The tax revenue would fund equipment including body-worn and in-car police cameras and update a computer-aided dispatch and record management system that the resolution said is nearing the end of its life span and “at risk of catastrophic failure.”
The assembly also passed a resolution dedicating $250,000 in municipal funds from the 2021 budget to begin implementing the technology upgrades.
The tax increase is capped at $1.84 million and would complete the funding for the technology overhaul.
The increase would result in a property tax increase of about $5.32 per every $100,000 in assessed value.
“It’s just the start of really building a legacy piece of infrastructure for APD that will be to the benefit of our community,” assembly member Meg Zaletel said.
Community groups, including the Alaska Black Caucus, have asked for more transparency and accountability from Anchorage police for years. Calls from the community and assembly for the department to implement body-worn cameras increased following the killing of George Floyd.
Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. His death prompted protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice.
Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll has said the department supports introducing body cameras but the initiative so far has been too expensive. The police department would lease the necessary equipment and technology to keep up with upgrades and reduce maintenance costs.
Assembly member Christopher Constant said the equipment will protect residents from abuses by police and also safeguard officers from unfounded allegations of mistreatment or abuse.
Assembly members Crystal Kennedy, Jamie Allard and Kameron Perez-Verdia voted against placing the tax hike on the ballot, saying the equipment appropriation should come from current municipality funds, not taxpayers.
“I truly do believe that if the will was there, we could identify existing funding within our operating budget to fund this now,” Perez-Verdia said.