Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Assembly to take up budget Monday


The Haines Borough Assembly will start discussing its budget priorities for next fiscal year at a workshop Monday.

Subjects will likely include staffing, police protection, where to find money for fixing Lutak Dock, taking care of the Portage Cove Harbor, and routine road and sewer maintenance.

Borough manager Bill Seward has until April 1 to submit his proposed fiscal year 2018 budget – for July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 – to the assembly. But several unknowns and potential revenue decreases haunt the upcoming budget calculations.

Haines fiscal year 2017 budget – July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 – is $12.3 million. The borough is running a $445,551 deficit in its areawide general fund, but the fund also holds $3.1 million in savings.

On Nov. 2, borough staff briefed the assembly on three avenues available for balancing the budget: cuts, increasing taxes, or spending savings. Or a combination of the three.

The borough’s chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart provided the assembly some preliminary calculations.

Here are some snapshots of a few pieces of the upcoming budget picture.

Across the entire borough, 48 percent of revenue comes from property taxes, 17 percent from sales taxes, 15 percent from the state and the rest from elsewhere.

But on revenues collected solely for the Haines townsite, the split is 50 percent from sales taxes, 30 percent from property taxes, 19 percent from the state and 1 percent from elsewhere.

A sales tax increase of 1 percent would bring in roughly $525,000 in revenue. An increase of one mill in property tax across the entire borough would raise an extra $302,000. An increase of one mill in just the townsite would raise an extra $183,000.

Right now, townsite property owners are paying a rate of 9.17 mills, which does not include an extra 1.3 mill for the borough’s debt service obligations.

Outside of the townsite, property is taxed at 5.95 mills to 10.99 mills, depending on road maintenance and firefighting obligations. That figure does not include a boroughwide 1.3 mills to retire local government debts.

Other budget factors include state revenue-sharing money expected to drop from $381,000 in fiscal year 2017 to $255,000 in fiscal year 2018.

Also, the raw fish tax revenue is expected to shrink due to a low pink salmon harvest. The raw fish tax revenue was budgeted at $192,000 in fiscal year 2017.

In another matter, the Alaska Department of Corrections has been considering cutting money for community jails, which could impact Haines.

And in its 2016 session, the Alaska Legislature discussed shifting more retirement and insurance obligations from the state government to local governments.

Right now the borough’s biggest expenses are $1.8 million to help the school system, more than $600,000 for public works, more than $500,000 for borough administration, and $555,000 for the police department.

Also, the borough is spending slightly less than $400,000 each for the public library and emergency dispatch center.


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