Boroughs in Alaska

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Alaska has 19 organized boroughs.[1] Many of the more densely populated areas of the state are parts of Alaska's boroughs, which function similarly to counties in other states.

Types of local government

Local government in Alaska consists of:

  • Organized boroughs: the entire state of Alaska is divided into 19 organized boroughs and 1 unorganized borough. 6 of the organized boroughs are consolidated with a particular city and operate as a unified government.

The organized boroughs of Alaska are:

Aleutians East Borough, Bristol Bay Borough, City & Borough of Juneau, City & Borough of Sitka, City & Borough of Wrangell, City & Borough of Yakutat, Denali Borough, Fairbanks Northstar Borough, Haines Borough, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Kodiak Island Borough, Lake and Peninsula Borough, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Municipality of Anchorage, Municipality of Skagway, North Slope Borough, Northwest Arctic Borough, Petersburg Borough
  • Cities: as of February, 2000 Alaska had 145 city governments.

Federal laws allowed the incorporation of cities in Alaska beginning in 1900. The first city government incorporated in Alaska was the City of Skagway. On June 5, 2007, voters approved dissolution of the City of Skagway and instead incorporated it as the first first-class borough in the State of Alaska.[2][3]

  • In addition, there are 15 special districts.[4]

Further classifications

Boroughs may be classified as:

  • First class borough.
  • Second class borough.
  • Third class borough.
  • Home rule charter borough.

Any general law borough may adopt and operate under a home rule charter.

The following boroughs operate under a home rule charter (with the year of charter adoption):

Municipality of Anchorage (1975), Denali Borough (1990), City and Borough of Juneau (1970), Lake and Peninsula Borough (1989), North Slope Borough (1974), Northwest Arctic Borough (1987), City and Borough of Sitka (1971), City and Borough of Yakutat (1992), Haines Borough (2002), City and Borough of Wrangell (2008)

Cities in Alaska are classified as:

  • First class city.
  • Second class city.
  • Home rule charter city.

Only first class cities may adopt a home rule charter.[5] To incorporate as a home rule or first class city, a community must have at least 400 permanent residents.[6]

The following cities operate under a home rule charter (with the year of charter adoption in parentheses):

Cordova (1960), Fairbanks (1960), Kenai (1963), Ketchikan (1960), Kodiak (1965), Nenana (1982), North Pole (1970), Palmer (1962), Petersburg (1960), Seward (1960), Valdez (1961)

Alaska's first and second class cities are general law cities. The laws that govern their powers, duties and functions are defined by state law. A home rule city may exercise all legislative powers not prohibited by law or by charter.[7]

Laws governing local ballot measures

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in Alaska

An initiative process is available in:

  • All general law cities, which have a mandated initiative process for ordinances.
  • All 11 charter cities, which must include initiative for ordinances in the charter. Charters may also permit initiative for charter amendments.
  • All general law boroughs, which have a mandated initiative process for ordinances.
  • All Ten charter boroughs, which must include initiative for ordinances in the charter. Charters may also permit initiative for charter amendments.[8]

Borough website evaluations

See also: Evaluation of Alaska borough websites

Websites of the five largest boroughs were last evaluated in 2012. Websites of the other boroughs were last evaluated in 2009.

  • Five boroughs put their budgets online. Five provide partial budget information, and six provide no budget information at all.
  • Eight boroughs include information on their websites about public government meetings.
  • Ten boroughs include information about the county's elected officials (six provide partial information).
  • Ten include information about the county's administrative officials.
  • Eleven give information about permits and zoning in the county.
  • Only one borough (Anchorage) provides information about audits that have been performed.
  • Only one borough (Kodiak) provides information about its contracts with vendors.
  • Only one borough (Anchorage) discloses its membership in government sector lobbying associations.
  • Five websites do (and 11 websites do not) provide information on how to request public records using the Alaska Public Records Act.
  • Six websites provide some information about county taxes.

List of organized boroughs

Alaska Boroughs and Census Areas
Name Borough seat First class Second class Third class
Aleutians East Borough Sand Point X
Municipality of Anchorage Anchorage X
Bristol Bay Borough Naknek X
Denali Borough Healy X
Fairbanks North Star Borough Fairbanks X
Haines Borough Haines X
Juneau Borough Juneau X
Kenai Peninsula Borough Soldotna X
Ketchikan Gateway Borough Ketchikan X
Kodiak Island Borough Kodiak X
Lake and Peninsula Borough King Salmon X
Matanuska-Sustina Borough Palmer X
Petersburg Borough X
North Slope Borough Barrow X
Northwest Arctic Borough Kotzebue X
Sitka Borough Sitka X
Skagway-Yakutat-Angoon Burough
Yakutat Borough Yakutat X

External links

Borough websites: