- Associated Press - Sunday, August 10, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - North Slope Borough’s mayor and at least 10 other leaders are getting big raises this year.

Mayor Charlotte Brower will see her salary jump by about $24,000 to more than $222,000 under a spending plan approved by the budget assembly last spring, Alaska Dispatch News reported (https://is.gd/nylkUa ). That’s roughly $90,000 more than Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan makes.

Other borough leaders are getting raises of up to 19 percent, ranging from $18,286 to $26,736 a year.

Officials say the raises are long overdue. Brower told Borough Assembly members she sought higher pay for department heads in order to attract key employees who could make more money working for other agencies and corporations in the oil-rich North Slope region.

The North Slope Borough serves seven villages and the city of Barrow, with about 9,700 residents spread across an area the size of Minnesota. The communities can only be reached by plane. The Department of Defense ranks Barrow as one of the costliest places to live in Alaska.

“A gallon of milk is running us $10, $11 a gallon,” said Rob Elkins, the borough’s finance director.

The new budget took effect in July.

Assembly member Doreen Lampe the raises seemed unreasonable to her at first, but that after a presentation on the topic, “it seemed that for the amount of work that they do, that it was reasonable.” She voted for it.

Assembly member John Hopson Jr., representing the villages of Wainwright and Atqasuk, was the only member to vote against it. It passed 4-1 with two members not present.

“I have this concern about having no jobs in the communities. I cannot support this budget until we can come to an agreement on this,” he said, according to borough records.

Thanks to revenue from the largest oil field in the United States, the borough likely has one of the largest local-government spending plans per capita in the country.

Brower told Assembly members that the $378.7 million borough budget included more money for village utility services, Ilisagvik College and a $750,000 increase in school spending. There is more money to hire firefighters and police officers and fuel subsidies to reduce villagers’ heating bills, she said.

“We trust your story will not cast a negative light on our rural mostly Inupiat communities and will also include money from the budget that was used on health care, science, education, public safety, community events, housing, and our infrastructure investments in Deadhorse,” D.J. Fauske, an Anchorage-based adviser to Brower, wrote to Alaska Dispatch News. “The Mayor stands by her pay increases to her hard working directors and village assistants and is proud of their commitment and dedication to the people of the North Slope.”

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com


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