It’s budget season again, and the Haines Borough has set its schedule for a series of public meetings residents concerned about how the borough spends its money are welcome to attend.
Manager Mark Earnest is required to submit to the assembly his six-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and proposed operating and capital budget for fiscal year 2014 no later than April 1. According to borough charter, Earnest’s presentation must include a written explanation of his decisions “focusing on the work to be done and the financial policies that will direct the funding of that work.”
On April 9, the assembly will convene as a committee of the whole (COW) at 4:30 p.m. in assembly chambers to receive a budget introduction and discuss the general fund, revenues, fund balances, economic trends, allocated expenses, the school district, library and museum.
The assembly will convene in a COW for a second time April 16 at 5:30 p.m. in assembly chambers to discuss public works, public facilities, solid waste, sinking funds, ports and harbors, capital projects, road maintenance service areas, parks, community youth development, the pool, fire service areas, medical service (ambulance/mental health), water and sewer.
The third and final COW will be April 23 at 4:30 p.m. in assembly chambers to discuss the administration, assembly, elections, finance, assessment, information technology, lands, the Chilkat Center, economic development and tourism, debt service funds, dispatch, police, animal control, passenger vessel tax funds and community funding requests.
Mayor Stephanie Scott urged residents to attend the budget meetings, particularly in the wake of recent increased property assessments that had residents worried their property taxes would increase proportionally.
Chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart clarified property taxes are calculated through the mill rate, not assessments, so the assembly could theoretically choose to lower the mill rate to mitigate the effects some sharply increased assessments could have on property taxes.
The budget ordinance will be introduced at the assembly’s April 23 regular meeting. It will see a first public hearing May 14 and a second public hearing May 28. If necessary, it will move to a third public hearing on June 11. All meetings concerning the budget ordinance will occur in assembly chambers at 6:30 p.m.
Stuart recommended residents interested in discussing the mill rate either make a public comment during one of the regular assembly hearings or attend the April 9 work session.