At last night’s regular meeting the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly approved increasing the amount of money that can be taken from the Facility Fund to pay school bond debt, as well a measure writing off old uncollectible debts.
KMXT’s Maggie Wall has this report on those two public hearing items as well as other action by the assembly.
Click arrow to listen to report, or go further down to read it.
The Kodiak Island Borough’s Facility Fund is used to maintain and repair borough buildings. It works like this, a large amount of money earns interest, and a portion is used for repairs. There are rules on how much money can be taken out and what it can be used for.
For instance, as Assembly Member Andy Schroeder explained, only half of the returns on investment could be used to pay the high school debt.
The measure approved last night changes that to 100 percent of the earnings, which may help one problem, but could create many more by not leaving money for repairs for other buildings.
“And that’s not our intention. When I got on the assembly, there was a message from staff and a warning from assembly members, don’t let your buildings rot. You’ve got to take care of them. You gotta do renewal and replacement, which we often call shorthand, R&R.”
The assembly held a lengthy discussion last night on whether it was better to leave money in the fund for much needed repairs, or change the limit on how much can be used to pay off bond debt.
As Assembly Member Julie Kavanaugh explains, the assembly was hopeful that the state would honor its commitment to pay the reimbursement for school debt on the high school. But, that didn’t happen, so the borough is short and must meet its obligations.
“I am on the side of favoring this because I haven’t yet heard a solution to the problem other than this that makes enough sense. So if someone has a different solution I have open ears but we have yet to come to any other solution for the dilemma we’re in. When we voted our budget, some of us voted thinking that the state budget would come down differently, so we kind of hedged our bets. Hopeful, we didn’t want to raise taxes. Now we’re trying to rectify our budget by doing this.”
Assembly Member Scott Arndt introduced the measure.
“We sold bonds to do repairs and maintenance to our schools and buildings and felt it was appropriate to use those to pay part of that debt because of the shortfall from the governor. This is not that it will be 100 percent, but up to 100 percent. So each year it’s the assembly’s choice.”
Assembly Member Rebecca Skinner introduced an amendment to allow the 100 percent draw on earnings for the current year only. But Arndt said the governor’s new budget for next year doesn’t include funds to fix the problem so the borough may be right back at this point again next year. He urged assembly members to leave the time line open.
In the end that is how the assembly voted. To allow a full draw of returns for debt payments and to not put a time limit on that option.
The other public hearing last night was to authorize the finance department to write off years-old, non-collectible accounts that are still on the borough’s books.
While writing off public money is not ideal, it is a reality. Assembly Member Duane Dvorak.
“It’s always regrettable when it comes to something like this where you have to write these things off. But there’s no business or government that I’m aware of that doesn’t end up with a few of these dead accounts for whatever reason.
And finally, Bayside Fire Chief Howard Rue announced, that after 4 years at the helm he will be leaving.
With more than fifty years in uniform, he gave a heartfelt compliment to fellow firefighters.
“I want to say that of any position, job, situation, or place that I have lived or worked. I will miss you all Kodiak, Kodiak Bayside, the most. I can honestly say this is the best job I have had anywhere.”
Rue will leave his post next December. That, he said, would give the fire service district and the borough time to hire and train his replacement.