Budget season is officially here for the City and Borough of Sitka. A draft copy of the FY17 budget has been distributed to all Assembly members in thick white binders.
But instead of budgeting during work sessions, City Administrator Mark Gorman proposed something a little different at the last Assembly meeting.
Gorman said, “My proposal this year is rather than having work sessions we have special Assembly meetings. That will allow the Assembly to take action. Given the fact that we are in a very dynamite situation, I think that will be very helpful.”
The first of those special budget meetings is tomorrow night (04-07-16), where the Assembly will review the particular challenges of this year’s budget. That includes a General Fund deficit of $490,000 and deficits in three enterprise funds – Electric, Water, and Wastewater. Due to this, the budget projects a 5% increase in electric rates, 6.2% in harbor moorage, and 1% in both water-use and wastewater.
The budget does not take into consideration several key suggestions by the Citizens’ Task Force, such as cutting the general fund by $700,000 this year. But if a cut of that size were to happen, the budget itemizes what would be on the chopping block. On the list? The elimination of the vacant Parks and Rec manager position; cutting Public Works snow removal, grounds maintenance, and janitorial by $250,000;cutting non-profit support by $89,000, and the Fire Department by $35,000.
The budget also proposes six full furlough days – one every other month – where City Hall would be closed entirely. Only emergency services would continue. The measure would save $200,000. As for the School District, the budget provides the same level of support as last year, at $6.7 million dollars.
All these figures are moving targets. In his memo to the Assembly, Chief Administrative Officer Jay Sweeney writes, “Much of what is proposed is tentative to change, subject to both the strategic decisions the Assembly must make, and fiscal decisions made by the State Legislature.”
Thursday’s (04-07-16) special budget meeting will be at 6 PM in the Sealing Cove Business Center.