For now, coffee appears to be safe in the Haines Borough budget.
In discussion of the public works budget Tuesday, assembly member Joanne Waterman said she would like to see coffee removed from the budgeted list of expenses.
“Coffee is a personal item. It’s not a borough expense. Borough money should not be used to pay for employee coffee,” Waterman said.
When Mayor Stephanie Scott pointed out coffee is included in the budgets of several different departments and asked whether Waterman was suggesting the cut be made borough-wide, Waterman said yes. “I realize it might be a little thing, but I just don’t agree with it,” she said.
Manager Mark Earnest asked public facilities director Carlos Jimenez how much of the $150 dedicated to “coffee, toilet paper, paper towel, etc.” was actually for coffee. Jimenez estimated about $30.
Jimenez offered to just strike the coffee from the budget – he requested the $150 remain, but said he could live with $30 being chopped – but discussion continued.
Chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart echoed Scott, clarifying that other borough departments provide coffee to employees and citizens. “This isn’t the only department that makes coffee. The dispatch and police have coffee; they work 24 hours a day. The (administration) building has coffee. The Visitor’s Center has coffee available for the public, I believe, and probably employees,” she said.
When Waterman said it was her understanding that employees in the administration building paid for coffee via a collection system, Earnest said sometimes that coffee is offered to visitors. “There is a collection thing, but if we have a visitor in we won’t collect from them,” he said.
At that point, Waterman abandoned the issue. “Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll drop it. Drop it,” she said.
After an long silence, Scott remarked, “I totally understand what (Waterman) is saying as a policy statement and I guess it’s hard to make a blanket policy given the distinctions between departments.”
The borough is currently trying to fill a $500,000 deficit for the upcoming fiscal year.
The next budget meeting is Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in assembly chambers.