Letter to the Editor
Girdwood Governance Association, Inc. (GGA) is a non-profit organization established by local citizens. The mission statement is “to explore, identify and if feasible, advance a viable plan to maximize self-governance for the Girdwood Community.” Girdwood is currently part of the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA). As a mountain resort community, we are very different in character and challenges of urban Anchorage. Given the Muni’s many issues, it is difficult for its leadership to direct attention to Girdwood.
A prime example was the inability of Anchorage Police Department, operating under an urban policing model, to take over law enforcement in Girdwood. After Alaska State Troopers withdrew from their Girdwood post, volunteer community members were able to find a satisfactory solution by working with our independent neighbor, the City of Whittier. Despite the good efforts by Girdwood Board of Supervisors, MOA has ultimate control over all aspects of Girdwood including housing, education, utilities, animal enforcement, land use and more.
We understand the MOA has brought infrastructure, services and benefits to Girdwood, including Anchorage School District. Girdwood pays handsomely for what it receives from MOA. GGA is advancing an independent study to compare property taxes, hotel/B&B occupancy charges and other fees generated by Girdwood, with the cost of MOA services delivered in Girdwood. Could these monies generated by Girdwood, exceed the value we receive? Could local taxes remain in Girdwood and run a more effective, locally controlled, mountain community?
We owe it to ourselves to evaluate these questions and discuss the best long-term governance options for Girdwood. To this end, GGA has been raising money for a third-party study to define possibilities, pro and con. The study evaluates revenues and costs to determine if there are financial means to form an independent community.
As part of this exercise, one consideration is whether we can form a new borough. The State has advised us the best way for Girdwood to become an independent city is to be part of a new borough, set up to maximize city powers.
An alternative borough structure could involve alignment with Whittier, possibly other parts of Turnagain Arm, and several communities in Prince William Sound including Cordova. We already do business with Whittier and Cordova and have much in common with communities along Alaska’s North Gulf Coast. Most recently, GGA has completed an economic feasibility study with Girdwood included as part of a new Prince William Sound Borough. The report is published on our website for all to read.
Determining facts and defining the possibilities is the responsible action to take. If continued third-party analysis finds a viable proposition, the community can further explore the possibility of city independence. If not, we can move on knowing we have researched the questions thoroughly.
Armed with solid information, our next steps should be to establish a more favorable position with MOA and work harder to request and be granted what we need in our community. We welcome input and encourage people to help. Please see our website: www.girdwood.us
Girdwood Governance Association