Politics & Government

Alaska Sen. Begich didn't disclose budget shortfall as Anchorage mayor

An investigation by the city's chief attorney concludes that former Mayor Mark Begich knew and failed to tell the Anchorage Assembly that the city wasn't going to have enough money to cover all its budgeted expenses last year and this year.

A 60-page report delivered to Assembly members late Wednesday afternoon by municipal attorney Dennis Wheeler says a section of the city charter "requires the mayor to report to the Assembly when he knows to a reasonable certainty that revenues will be less than appropriations for the fiscal year."

But Wheeler's report, echoing accusations that have been aired by Begich foes for months, said Begich and some of his top executives missed a series of opportunities at meetings and work sessions to spell out how poorly some city investments and revenues were performing as the Assembly deliberated the 2009 budget and four long-term labor contracts approved late last year.

The attorney said city laws don't provide any remedies for what he sees as Begich's failure to live up to the letter of the charter. Wheeler said he is drafting language for an ordinance that would do so in the future, if approved by the Assembly.

In a written statement, Begich called Wheeler's report predictably critical of him and his administration.

"We should not pretend that this review of the facts was objective, fair or complete," Begich's statement said. "The Sullivan administration, in concert with a handful of Assembly members, is determined to tarnish the record of my administration and this is just the latest step in that effort."

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