July 12, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 28

Secures schools money comes through: $359K

The Haines Borough expects to receive about $359,000 in secure schools funding, following passage this week of the federal transportation bill.

The legislation, signed by President Barack Obama, approves $346 million to 700 rural communities in 41 states.

The money is a one-year extension of a program intended as compensation for communities that previously received a share of revenues from logging on federal forests. But federal leaders say it may be the last of that money, as the program has increasingly come under fire.

During a Haines visit in May, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said continuing the program would be difficult.

“It’s good news,” said Jila Stuart, the borough’s chief financial officer.

Borough manager Mark Earnest said he would not recommend the funding be additional to the Haines school district, but suggested it would replace savings used by the municipality this year to shore up the school budget.

Mayor Stephanie Scott expressed an interest in directing some of the unexpected money to the areawide general fund, from which the borough borrowed $122,000 while setting the budget for the coming year.

School district officials are worried about an anticipated enrollment drop next school year that would reduce the funding it receives from the state. The district has savings of $562,000 in its general fund.

school board member Anne Marie Palmieri suggested this week that the borough put aside the additional funds in the event of reductions next year.