The Kodiak City Council held the first reading of its fiscal year 2017 budget last night at its regular meeting. It’s been a focus of discussion at many council meetings for the last few months, and Councilman John Whiddon pointed out all the hard work that has gone into its final form.
“I’m ready to move this forward in the first reading. I believe it’s a good body of work. I think it’s very fiscally responsible. The staff I believe has gone over and above to obtain the cost savings and cost reductions that they have, so I think this is a good step towards getting us towards being fiscally sustainable.”
According to the budget summary included in the meeting packet, the fiscal year 2017 budget is roughly $43,400,000. Councilman Charlie Davidson acknowledged the city staff for its thoroughness.
“This budget is a reduction of slightly over 12 and a half percent from the previous year, so the staff has worked very diligently, and in these times of increasing prices, to come up with a budget cut of slightly over 12 and half percent shows you how hard they have worked on this budget, because we’re still trying to maintain pretty much the same services.”
That ordinance will go onto its second reading at the next city regular meeting.
The city council also had its first reading of an ordinance that would amend the icty personnel rules and regulations to reflect a 2.38 percent cost of living increase for city employees, a change already included in the fiscal year 2017 budget.
Deputy city manager Mike Tvenge explained at the regular meeting that the 2.38 percent is drawn from the latest Anchorage consumer price index, which uses the price of goods to determine cost of living.
The reading comes a few days before a petition for city employee unionization is slated to begin circulation. The council formally learned about the petition at its work session Tuesday. Should the petition get enough signatures, it would be up to voters whether or not city employees would have the right to organize and bargain collectively. The city spent thousands of dollars to defeat a similar vote several years ago.
At last night’s meeting, Councilman Gabriel Saravia said he believes it’s the city council’s job to inform the voters how much money the government will save or lose due to unionization, as well as the pros and cons. He said voters will not see that on the pamphlet when they go to vote.
“They’re not giving them the facts that say … [it’s] going to cost more money to the city, or [it’s] going to cost less money to the city. There’s no facts there. And I’m not expecting that our city manager [they’re going to lie], but I’m expecting them to give the facts to the public so they are available to tell the public what the facts are there to make the right decision for the city and for our city employees.”
The ballot petition will begin circulating on Tuesday and will need 149 signatures by July 5 to move forward. If it’s successful, the voters in October will decide whether or not city employees should have the right to organize.