Tap fund balance to improve roads?
Haines Borough staff is looking into improving roads within the townsite following a request by Mayor Stephanie Scott to spend more of the borough’s fund balance.
The townsite general fund is currently carrying a $1.5 million balance, which essentially acts as a “savings account” for the borough. Last year, the borough took more than $500,000 out of the savings for capital equipment and other projects.
For fiscal year 2015, former interim manager Julie Cozzi proposed in her draft budget to take only $47,000 from the townsite fund balance.
Mayor Scott called the $1.5 million balance “extraordinary” during Tuesday’s budget meeting, and said the borough should spend some of that money on improvements instead of letting it sit in an account.
“It makes me nervous, because ethically I’m uncomfortable with holding the taxpayers’ money in an account like this and charging them tax at the same time,” Scott said.
Chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart said the borough has been “making strides toward spending it down,” though how far down is the question. “(I) appreciate your desire not to sit on this taxpayer money, but what’s an appropriate amount to spend each year?”
Though the assembly didn’t answer that question Tuesday, members asked staff to prioritize a list of roads within the townsite that could benefit from some of that money. They also asked to have amounts attached to the list of prioritized roads.
The budget ordinance will have its first public hearing Tuesday.