Kodiak Daily Mirror - Borough passes school funding levy employee pay raises
Borough passes school funding levy, employee pay raises
by Drew Herman
May 16, 2014 | 267 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly passed a minimum tax levy for school funding for fiscal year 2015 at 9.16 mills with a 4-1 vote during a regular meeting Thursday.

Borough finance director Karleton Short said that rate, equal to a bill of $2,748 on property valued at $300,000, would generate $10.1 million for the school district in fiscal year 2015. The borough also uses motor vehicle license fees to fund schools.

Assembly member Aaron Griffin supported the ordinance because it would give the schools some predictability for its budget planning, a long-term goal of the assembly.

“I think that we’ve reached that, he said. “Quite honestly, it’s the right place to be.”

Assembly member Carol Austerman noted the mismatch between budgeting schedules of the state, borough and schools has caused “discomfort and panic.”

She said the assembly’s goal to reform its budget process should lead to further improvements.

“We don’t quite know how we’re going to do it yet,” she said, but agreed he rate represents a good first step.

Assembly member Mel Stephens, who cast the dissenting vote, moved to change the mill rate in the resolution to 8.75 mills, but received no second.

He argued the steady increase in borough property values, amounting to about 2.5 percent per year, made the lower rate adequate to compensate for inflation. He called the decline in school enrollment over the last 10 years “very significant,” and said it did not support a large funding

The assembly also passed a new employee classification and compensation plan that includes pay raises for some borough employees, effective back to Jan. 1 of this year.

Introducing the ordinance, borough manager Bud Cassidy noted the borough competes with other municipalities, including the city of Kodiak, for competent staff.

“These are borough employees that have not been paid the going wage for some time” he said.

Testifying in favor of the change, borough human resources officer Lauri Whiddon said it would replace an aged system and make it easier to recruit and retain staff.

Regarding the retroactive increases Short said, “I think Jan. 1 should be a very reasonable goal.”

Austerman noted the assembly discussed the pay raises long ago and said employees should not suffer due to the long delay.

“It took almost a year for this to get in front of us again,” she said.

Stephens again cast the sole dissenting vote.

“The bottom line is this borough is not made of money,” he said.

Also on Thursday, Cassidy reviewed aspects of the borough’s strategic plan for 2014-18. The plan with goals for the coming years is viewable through the borough website.

Short gave a presentation about the borough budget, with brief discussions of income sources and the five different various funds. He said the overall budget for fiscal year 2015 comes to $36.02 million. That’s about $330,000 higher than the previous year, accounting for a new position in the manager’s office and other expenses.

Short referred to recent talk about increasing borough building permit fees. He said the current fees cover 41 percent of inspection costs and would have to go up by 144 percent to cover the whole cost.

Concerning the two largest current capital projects, Short said the Kodiak High School addition and renovation project has so far spent $36.2 million of the expected $80.5 million and is on budget. The $32 million landfill lateral expansion is on track for completion in June 2105.

“It’s expected to extend the life of our landfill more than 40 years,” Short said. “This is a very large project.”

In other business, Mayor Jerrol Friend declared May as Safe Boating Month in the borough.

Cassidy announced a sale of borough-owned land zoned for residential use will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday in the assembly chambers. Eight parcels are available. Bidders should come early to register. No credit cards or personal checks will be accepted.

The borough assembly meets next for a planning session on May 29. The next regular session will be June 5.

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