The Kodiak Island Borough is looking into raising property taxes to make ends meet and balance the budget in the next fiscal year.
Like the rest of Alaska, Kodiak’s budget is suffering from shrinking state and federal revenues, which make up a large portion of the borough’s general fund.
Borough Manager Michael Powers says 2016’s poor pink salmon season and its effect on the raw fish tax also plays into the current situation.
“The bad fishing season was last season, but it shows up in our coffers this upcoming year, so we’re looking at a significant decrease there, and in addition, the state cost us $1.3 million in not paying for all of the bonds for the high school.”
He says the mill rate increase is one possible answer to that debt.
“The people voted for bonds to build the high school. The debt has to be repaid, and so that’s just really a function of math of looking at what the repayment is versus what comes in from the state for reimbursement, and since that was approved by the public, that component of the mill rate simply makes sense to increase since it was a voter approved initiative.”
They’re also exploring two other ways of increasing revenue. Powers mentions a $1 per pack cigarette tax.
“And we’re also looking at a tax on charter boat operations and hunting operations that would basically be a per box tax for fish or meat coming off the island.”
He says if the mill rate increase passes, it would go into effect for fiscal year 2018, which begins in July.
This week, KMXT dropped by a couple of stores around town and asked people what they thought about a possible mill rate increase.
Powers says this topic will likely be on borough assembly meeting agendas throughout May. That includes the assembly’s regular meeting on Thursday night.