The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and public heard the proposed fiscal year 2016 budget at its regular meeting last night. Finance director Karl Short addressed different influences on budget, including the investments the borough would be making on various projects like the Landfill Lateral Expansion.
“The landfill’s gonna be about 3 million 768 thousand a year," says Short. "We are finishing up that work that 32 million dollar project, and so what we’re proposing is a 15% rate increase, which sounds like a lot of money, but when you look at your bill for picking up your refuse, it’s gonna go up a small amount. Just take last month’s bill and multiply it by 1.15, and it’s not that large.”
When Short says “... it's not that large,” he means the increase will be lower than 15 percent because of the drop in fuel prices and the Consumer Price Index.
Borough Assembly members expressed interest in recycling and possible savings the Borough could gain from it. Engineering and Facilities Director Robert Tucker says they’re looking at not only shipping recyclable materials off the island, but also making use of some of them.
“Such as tires and glass," says Tucker. "They can actually be crushed or shredded and used as cover for the landfill so it doesn’t fill the landfill, but we can actually use it instead of making rock. So, there’s a couple of different ways that we’re gonna try to actually do something with this over the next year or so.”
The Borough Assembly also discussed a resolution establishing the minimum amount of funds for the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s 2016 fiscal year. Assemblyman Aaron Griffin made a motion related to the resolution.
“I would like to move that we adjust the mill rate to 8.85 mills as the minimum, which would give a level funding of 10 million 620 thousand dollars estimated direct contribution and in-kind services plus the 280 thousand other vehicle tax, which would take us to a total of 10 million 912 thousand dollars.”
Assemblyman Dan Rohrer said he would vote no on the motion.
“Over the last two years, we’ve greatly increased the amount of money we gave to nonprofits and the Kodiak Island Borough School District and at this point at time, we simply can’t afford that in my opinion, because what we’re sacrificing is the long-term viability of the building you’re sitting in as well as other facilities in the borough," says Rohrer.
Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner says, although she anticipates the assembly will come back and give the school district more once it has a firmer handle on its own budget, she agrees with Rohrer’s decision.
“I’m just not comfortable committing to a larger amount right now for the school district when we have increasing debt that the borough has to pay and there’s reduced funding from the state, reduced federal funding available. The funding is tight all around," says Skinner.
The motion to increase the mill rate and school funding failed four-to-two, with Griffin and Assemblywoman Chris Lynch voting in favor. Immediately after that vote, the resolution to fund the Kodiak Island Borough School District at $10,320,000 passed five-to-one, with Griffin dissenting.
The Borough Assembly’s next regular meeting is scheduled for June 4.