Proposed Borough Budget Cuts
by Dave Kiffer
April 07, 2004
I just thought I would take a minute to let sitnews readers have
a heads up regarding likely borough budget cuts this summer.
There is no question that the borough is in tough shape financially,
there are a variety of reasons for this but it serves no purpose
to rehash things that the current borough assembly can do nothing
about. The only issue is how the assembly improves the borough
financial picture. There are several projects in the planning
stage that will improve things, such as the sale of the Gateway
Club building to the state troopers and the moving of state ferry
system administrative employees to Ward Cove, but they - and
other projects such as a regional cold storage, a regional ethanol
plant and the restarting of the Veneer Mill - are too far down
the road to help us out this year.
We have some tough choices to make and I think it is fair to
say that in addition to a proposed sales tax hike of .5 percent
and a potential .5 mill property tax increase, the assembly is
looking at cutting back in several areas.
One of those areas is community grants to local non-profits.
Currently, the borough provides approximately $800,000 a year
to those groups. Crucial services are received by the members
of this community through those grants, but we have reached a
point where the borough can probably no longer continue to provide
that level of funding. Does that mean that all the grants will
be terminated. Maybe, maybe not. The assembly is very sharply
divided now on whether to reduce or eliminate the grants. Public
input is essential.
Another area being looked at is bus service. This is a difficult
one because a long, skinny, and wet community like Ketchikan
needs public transportation. The question is how much can the
community afford and what level should the borough subsidize
a service that will never pay for itself through ridership fees.
Some cuts are likely, the question is how much and where to make
the system more self-supporting. Once again, public input is
The borough's largest line item is the money that goes to run
the school district. Last year, the borough didn't give the maximum
amount it can under the law and that was very controversial.
This year, the school district is asking the borough to "fund
to the cap." There are also projected cost increases in
other school funding that the borough provides the school system
such as insurance and bond debt service. On top of the that both
the school system and the borough are looking at significant
cost increases in retirement programs. Suffice it to say, that
to "fund to the cap" would require a significant increase
over last year's appropriation to the school system, well above
and beyond the $500,000 that the borough "underfunded"
the schools last year. I can't say this too often...public input
There are other areas that the borough is looking at for staff
and budget cuts to balance our budget, but those are the main
starting points. No decision should be made in a vacuum and too
often local government only hears from a few people at budget
time. And usually those people are those that are directly affected
by any proposed cuts. The decisions that the assembly makes at
budget time affect all the citizens of the borough. We need to
hear from all of you starting now and all the way to the end
of June! We need to know what you think the priorities are. It's
your future. Please get in touch.
Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly
Ketchikan, AK - USA
Note: Comments published
on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
Post a Comment -------View Comments
Submit an Opinion - Letter
Stories In The News