Borough Budget Under Microscope

Maggie Wall/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly will sit down tonight and Friday night to work its way line-by-line through next year’s budget trying to find a way to patch a hole that could be as large as 30-percent of year’s total local spending.

The assembly is considering a number of options including increasing the severance tax and raising property taxes. Other options include slashing local funding for schools, non-profits and the college. Also on the table are borough jobs and services.

In fact, at recent work sessions, assembly members have repeatedly said everything is on the table.

The assembly last week committed $8.5 million to the school district for local school funding. That is less than in previous recent years and was a big disappointment to school officials. However, assembly members said they need to deal with the borough’s budget problems before committing anything more to the schools.

Both tonight’s and tomorrow night’s assembly work sessions will be held downstairs in the borough conference room. They begin at 6 p.m., which is an hour-and-a-half earlier than normal.

Students, parents and school personnel who testified at last week’s regular borough assembly meeting said it was important to the community to fund schools to the maximum allowed by state law, which is called "funding to the cap."

School administrators had testified that the low level of funding would mean fewer teachers and fewer programs. But, after checking with the schools’ attorney, Kodiak Island Borough School Superintendent Stewart McDonald told the school board on Monday that staff cannot be cut solely because of budget cuts.

School supporters are expected to come out in force for tonight’s and tomorrow night’s work sessions.

Though there are no public hearings at work sessions, the public may speak for three minutes on any subject during Citizens’ Comments which is at the top of the agenda.

Because work sessions are not the same as regular meetings, those citizens’ comments are not considered part of the official record, and the assembly cannot take any action

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