The Kodiak Island Borough School District is requesting an increase in funding around $1 million* from the Kodiak Island Borough. That money would counter a shortfall in its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. If the district doesn’t receive the boost, it estimates about 14 teaching positions**, along with others, would be eliminated.
The borough manager is proposing an increase in property taxes to generate the revenue needed to support the school district. At a recent Kodiak Island Borough Assembly work session, members of the public and the Assembly discussed what should be done about the situation and if taxes should be raised.
It was hard to find a seat at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly’s latest work session. That’s because so many people turned out to hear the assembly discuss its upcoming budget and if it will increase its mill rate by about one mill.
Many borough residents shared their thoughts with the assembly about it possibly raising property taxes to help the Kodiak School District with its budget shortfall of over $1 million.
“When I heard about, “uh, they’re going to raise the mill rate. They’re going to raise the taxes.” I didn’t want to hear that, but when I think about where the money goes, I want my tax money to go to the schools.”
Linda McCool was in the majority of people who addressed the assembly. Many said education should be a priority for the borough, like Lindsey Glenn. She’s not just worried about the quality of her children’s education if the borough doesn’t increase the district’s funding, but also the students who don’t have a good home life.
“My kids will be okay because they’ve got a supportive family. We’ve got a good support group, but there’s many many children in our community who don’t. And if we don’t prioritize education, if we don’t enable our district to make the decisions they need to do to retail and keep quality educators in our town, then those are the kids that are going to suffer.”
There wasn’t a lot of discussion on the proposed mill rate increase among the assembly. It has until June to officially approve its budget for the upcoming year, so a lot can still change.
The assembly members who did speak up didn’t seem in favor of raising property taxes though. Assemblyman Kyle Crow said he’s worried about the stress that increasing taxes will put on young families.
“I’m thinking about the children and I’m thinking about their parents who have to work two jobs and the kid has to come home as a latchkey kid to an empty house.”
It’s not easy to go on the record and say what you think about raising the borough’s property tax according to Assemblywoman Julie Kavanaugh, but she admitted that she’s not in favor of raising the mill rate.
“I don’t really want to see taxes raised. I just need to be honest, that’s where I’m starting from. My arms going to have to be twisted, I’m going to have to be convinced.”
The proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 will be up for its first reading at the assembly’s regular meeting tonight. It’ll begin at 6:30 pm at the borough building in assembly chambers.
*This article originally stated that the Kodiak Island School District was requesting additional funding somewhere around $1.5 million from the Kodiak Island Borough, which was the districts original estimate. A recent letter from KIBSD to the borough lowered their request to about $1 million. This edit reflects that update.
**An early version of this article put the Kodiak Island School District estimated that 19 teaching positions would be eliminated if they did not receive an increase in funding. The number is actually closer to 14 teaching positions. This estimate was given to the public at a budget Q &A the school district held in February.