The Haines Borough Assembly introduced the upcoming year’s budget Tuesday to little fanfare.

The budget ordinance will have its first public hearing May 12, its second on May 26, and a potential third hearing June 9. These hearings are the public’s opportunity to comment on the document that will determine borough spending in the upcoming year.

Haines Animal Rescue Kennel volunteer Chuck Mitman spoke against manager David Sosa’s proposed cuts to the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel, and provided a history of why the borough started contracting with HARK in the first place for the purposes of animal control.

“The way the borough was handling the animal control problem was just not acceptable,” Mitman said. “At large and nuisance dogs were apprehended only when it was convenient for Public Works to do so. The dogs were held in a two kennel shed for three to five days and then taken to the dump and shot if not claimed.”

The impetus for the creation of HARK came when a dog was hit by a car and it say with a broken leg in the shed for five days before being claimed by owners, he said. Notice to the public about captured dogs was only made occasionally through vague postings at the post office.

In 2005, the assembly decided HARK could do a much better job at animal control than the borough and gave the organization a new contract.

Sosa’s budget would slash HARK’s contract from $47,800 to $16,200, effectively eliminating its animal control officer position. Sosa claims the cuts are necessary because of decreased funding from the state for public safety.

Mitman argued a municipality must provide quality animal control for the protection of the community, just like it provides fire, police and emergency services.

“Decisions can’t always be financially driven. What is morally good for the community must enter in your equation,” Mitman told the assembly.

HARK board member Patty Campbell also testified at Tuesday’s meeting, stating decreasing funding to HARK would be a “huge disservice” to the community.

Aside from the HARK cuts, the $12 million budget still includes $45,000 for a Juneau lobbyist, a slight mill rate increase and implementation of an e911 surcharges to local phones. It would also leave one of the five police officer positions unfilled.

Since releasing the budget, the borough has learned it will receive about $120,000 in Secure Rural Schools funding. The Department of Corrections has also notified communities that cuts to rural jail facilities may be less than anticipated, Sosa said.