Assembly passes FY15 budget
The Haines Borough Assembly last week passed its $12 million budget for the upcoming year on a 4-2 vote, with assembly members Debra Schnabel and George Campbell opposed to the spending plan.
The budget included the creation of a new community and economic development director position and elimination of the executive assistant to the manager position.
Campbell tried and failed at a previous meeting to remove the development director position from the budget. At the final budget hearing May 27, Campbell again expressed his reservations about including the job in the budget without fully fleshing out the position’s qualifications and responsibilities.
Schnabel expressed the same concerns about the community and economic development director position’s inclusion in the budget. “I’m not happy and I’m not satisfied with the job description that is there, nor am I satisfied with the minimum requirements,” Schnabel said in an interview.
As defined currently, the minimum requirements for the job include a bachelor’s degree in any subject. Schnabel said at a recent personnel committee meeting that she would like to see the job’s qualifications raised, including possibly requiring a degree related to economic development.
Schnabel also tried to increase the “community chest” pot of money for local nonprofits from $32,500 to $42,500, but the motion failed.
Unlike last year’s budget, which underwent numerous amendments, this year the draft document saw only two changes before being passed by the assembly in its final form.
The only two amendments to the draft budget came during the May 13 meeting when assembly member Dave Berry moved to transfer $233,000 from the townsite area fund balance to the capital improvement projects fund for spending on “projects to be determined” like road improvements. He also moved to spend $28,900 from the areawide general fund to mothball the Mosquito Lake School building.
Both changes passed unanimously.
The budget also includes several personnel changes aside from creation of the community and economic development director position. It combines the deputy clerk and public facilities clerk positions into one job, changes the assistant assessor position to assessor, increases the administrative assistant position in the lands department from 30 to 40 hours per week, and eliminates the part-time seasonal parks laborer for public works.
The budget also includes $27,000 in revenue from an impending phone tax, which would tack on a monthly fee to local phone bills. The tax will need to be approved by ordinance.
The budget shows no increase to the townsite service area mill rate and a lower areawide mill rate across the board, except for the Historic Dalton Trail Road Maintenance Service Area, which submitted a snow removal budget that results in higher mill rates for that area.