Haines Borough Manager David Sosa released his draft $12 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year Wednesday. It includes a mill rate increase, leaving a police officer position unfilled and transferring the job of catching loose dogs from the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel to the police department.

Sosa’s budget also proposes to close the pool for three weeks in May and increase user fees by 50 cents. It would cut hours for staff at the library, museum and dispatch center.

Sosa has not included funding for a community center at Mosquito Lake School, an annual Washington, D.C., lobbying trip, Fourth of July fireworks, technical upgrades to the assembly chambers, and a previously-planned $50,000 professional survey of community issues.

The draft budget proposes an areawide mill rate increase of .23 mills. That translates to a 23-cent increase on every $1,000 of a property’s value. (For a home and property valued at $200,000, the owner’s property tax bill would increase by $46.)

Sosa said the increase will result in additional revenue of about $100,000.

The mill rate increase and other efforts, including dipping into the areawide general fund’s reserve, will offset losses from several revenue sources, including reductions in state revenue sharing (-$25,350), raw fish tax revenue (-$219,190), federal payment in-lieu-of taxes (-$20,000) and interest earnings (-$15,000).

“We could have (increased the mill rate) more, but we made use of a portion of the reserves. So when you look at how we kept things in check, there is that $100,000 in cuts internal to the departments, there is the use of the reserves and then there is a small mill rate increase in order to kind of spread the pain between all elements,” Sosa said.

The increase in the mill rate allows the borough to maintain just less than a six-month reserve in the areawide general fund. That means the fund will still have $2.32 million in savings, and there will be an additional $1.27 million in savings in the townsite service area fund.

Sosa is proposing to not fill the fifth position on the police force, to cut dispatcher hours and to eliminate funding for HARK’s animal control officer to make up for the loss of $270,000 from the Community Jails Program, a state Department of Corrections program that provides money to small communities for operation of rural jails.

Sosa acknowledged that a four-officer police department will result in a reduction in services. “You can’t do the same with four people as you can with five, but we’ve been working with four and occasionally we’ve been working with three, and we know we can provide the coverage we need. Is it ideal? No,” he said.

The budget also would eliminate the animal control officer position from the annual contract the borough negotiates with HARK.

In addition to catching stray and lost animals around town, the control officer is responsible for a slew of other duties at HARK, including administering and processing paperwork for animal adoptions, performing and scheduling maintenance on the HARK vehicle, inventorying and ordering supplies, and maintaining HARK’s website and social media accounts.

Sosa said the borough would still have a contract with HARK, but at a reduced amount. HARK would still board dogs at the organization’s Small Tracts Road facility, but the police officers would be responsible for picking up the animals.

“I talked to (police chief Bill Musser) and he said he’s done it for years and relied on dog biscuits for the good dogs and the snare for the bad dogs,” Sosa said. “It’s a duty that police have had in the past and it’s one of those things that we are going to have to work through.”

HARK director Tracy Mikowski said transferring the duties of dogcatching to the police won’t significantly reduce the workload at HARK, and wouldn’t warrant cutting the animal control officer, who is one of the organization’s two employees.

“It would not change our workload by much of anything. It doesn’t take much time to go pick up a dog,” Mikowski said. “That’s not the expensive work. That is where the work begins.”

Transferring the dogcatching responsibilities to the police “doesn’t cut back on what kind of staff I need to run the shelter and care for animals and process these animals,” Mikowski said.

“That’s not all (animal control officers) do,” she said. “They do a whole lot more and I don’t think they realize that.”

Mikowski said there is “no way” HARK could continue to provide its level of services without an animal control officer.

HARK’s current contract with the borough is for $47,800. It expires in June at the end of the current fiscal year.

Aside from not filling the fifth police officer and eliminating the animal control officer from the HARK contract, Sosa isn’t proposing to add or subtract any employees in the coming year. However, he is reducing employee hours at the library and museum, though it is up to the department heads to determine how those cuts will affect hours of operation.

Sheldon Museum director Helen Alten said though the borough will be paying for less employee hours, that won’t likely affect hours of operation. “We’re not cutting anybody or reducing hours,” Alten said.

Alten said the hour cuts will result in a $20,000 shortfall, but the museum will raise funds to make up the gap and won’t end up having to cut employee hours. “I think we’ll be able to raise it,” she said.

Sosa identified the sewage treatment plant and Lutak Dock as the borough’s top two priorities.

The most likely option for funding the sewage treatment plant is a $1.7 million Department of Environment Conservation loan, which the borough applied for, Sosa said. Paying the principal on debt service on such a loan, though, would grossly inflate sewer rates.

“The challenge with relying only on the loan is that it will drive sewer rates up to an unbearable level. It will probably quadruple sewer rates,” Sosa said.

So, Sosa is advocating pursuit of the loan in conjunction with other funding options like applying for a DEC matching grant, tapping the borough permanent fund and/or reappropriating money from the CIP fund balance.

“If we have to do something, we have to accept the loan and we have to move forward. But we also have to look at every other source of funding that we have available to ensure that the rates don’t go skyrocketing,” Sosa said.

The Lutak Dock repair and/or replacement project is expected to cost between $10 million and $30 million, Sosa said. The assembly recently appropriated $100,000 for planning and concept development for the facility, and Sosa is asking the assembly to roll whatever of that money is unspent in this fiscal year into the next budget.

Aside from that, Sosa is banking on an outside funder coming in, either public or private, to help with financing. When asked who that outside funder might be, Sosa said, “whoever wants to work with us where we feel it is going to be a good partnership. You don’t want to sell your soul in order to make that happen.”

Sosa’s other budget proposals include:

● Setting aside $32,500 for a “community chest” for grants to nonprofit organizations, the same amount as last year.

● Implementing an e911 surcharge on phone bills to collect an additional $35,135 in revenue to pay for the police department’s dispatch center upgrade.

● Giving the school 80 percent of the state’s identified maximum level of funding, compared to the historic 83-84 percent, or a decrease of about $47,300.

● Funding a $150,000 expansion of the new Public Works Shop to house personnel and equipment from both the new and old shops. Sosa said utilities and maintenance on the old shop cost $45,000 per year, and combining the two would save money over the long run. The old shop could be sold, transferred or used for storage, he said.

● Transferring $281,000, the maximum amount allowable, from the borough’s permanent fund earnings reserve.

● Re-seeding half of Tlingit Park for $7,400 and re-seeding the other half next year.

● Renovating the exterior of the Public Safety Building in a four-phase project that would include new windows, siding and insulation.

● Improving the Senior Center with new windows, doors and siding.

● Reducing the Chilkat Center’s allocation by 8 percent, or about $8,200.

The manager’s budget is a draft, with the assembly holding the final authority to add and subtract items before it is passed.

The assembly’s first budget workshop is scheduled for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday.