Borough to alter its budget process
Budget season is around the corner, and the Haines Borough is already preparing for how it will decide to carve up the financial pie in 2015.
Interim manager Julie Cozzi and chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart are working with department directors and preparing them for a potentially dismal fiscal situation.
This year, Cozzi asked department managers to submit two draft budgets: one that holds current operating budget at its same level and another that makes a 10 percent cut to last year’s level.
“We all know we are facing possible reductions to our revenues along with potential increases to certain expenditures such as electricity costs... We are already operating with fairly lean budgets, so I recognize this exercise will involve difficult decisions,” Cozzi said.
“I want to give them an opportunity to envision cuts early on as a way to help guide the administration and assist the assembly in grappling with any hard choices that may have to be made,” she added.
This year, the budget process will for the first time involve a “pre-budget workshop,” where the manager and department heads will meet with the assembly before the manager presents a draft budget.
“I think that is going to be a big change,” said Mayor Stephanie Scott. “It’s a way for the assembly to get their thoughts on the table prior to being presented with the manager’s budget.”
Scott said she is also looking for the process to be a give-and-take between the assembly and department heads. Last year, committee-of-the-whole budget sessions were mainly informational, where department heads answered questions about their budgets as opposed to haggling for more or less money.
Last year’s approved budget came in at about $12.2 million.