Budget hearings set
Residents interested in how the Haines Borough spends its money can attend upcoming budget meetings, including an introductory presentation by chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Stuart’s presentation will review major changes to this year’s budget and trends, and what interim manager Julie Cozzi hopes to accomplish with the budget. There will be no discussion, Cozzi said.
The second meeting, where the entirety of the budget will be discussed, is set for four hours, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29.
Cozzi said this year the budget will be discussed by fund rather than by department. “It will help the assembly focus on the big picture without getting into the ‘weeds,’” Cozzi said.
Mayor Stephanie Scott echoed the sentiment, saying she thought the change would “keep us out of the weeds” in terms of discussing spending money on smaller items.
“I don’t want to talk about saving money by not having coffee. I think that’s silly. That won’t happen again,” Scott said.
Stuart said the individual departments still will be discussed, though working through the budget by fund will allow assembly members to concentrate on fund balances and revenue streams.
For example, the borough has 18 funds. It doesn’t make sense to debate whether the borough wants to spend money on ambulance service or the pool, since the money to pay for those things is coming from two different places, Stuart said.
“We are (still) looking at each department. It just makes sense to look at the same ones that are fighting for the same pot of money at the same time,” Stuart said.
Assembly member Debra Schnabel said she is looking forward to the new process of looking at funds, as it will cause “a big awakening to many people to see we could be doing things differently.”
Specifically, Schnabel pointed to the borough’s enterprise funds, which she said aren’t charging enough for their services and are being subsidized by property taxes.
Schnabel also agreed with Scott that talking about how much money the borough spends on coffee is waste of time. “That’s not how you save money,” she said.
The third and final budget meeting is from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 13. Cozzi said the third meeting is for follow-up discussion, as needed.
The budget ordinance will be introduced at the May 13 assembly meeting.