At this week’s Borough Assembly Regular meeting, the Assembly will take up several significant agenda items related to the next year’s budget.
First, the Assembly will tackle the Kodiak Island Borough school district’s request for nearly $10.5 million, which represents flat-funding from the current fiscal year. After discussions at last week’s work session, the Assembly settled on just over $9.7 million, a 7% reduction to the annual allocation.
Responding to the reduction, KIBSD School Board President Duncan Fields spoke at last week’s assembly work session:
“I want to underline, underscore, and emphasize that the school is requesting level funding. The mill rate that pays for the school last year will be the same mil rate in the next year, if the borough funds the school district for the amount we are requesting, at level funding.”
The Assembly wasn’t quite swayed by Fields’s argument. Assembly person Andy Schroeder responded:
“Hearing Duncan’s plea, I feel like the school district didn’t respond well to being told to cut more. He brought up some points I hadn’t heard before, that we would be essentially funding them at an all time low, and disregarding a bunch of good faith efforts, cuts, and money they came up with to help our situation.”
Fields followed up in a letter to the Assembly:
“Our initial request for level funding should remain. Our request equitably balances between the Borough and the School district regarding sharing the financial burden…any further cuts would be a breach of our fiduciary duties to the community.”
This discussion and vote at this week’s meeting will set up the next agenda item: approving next fiscal year’s budget, set to begin July 1, and approving new mill rates to balance the borough’s budget.
In order to balance the budget, the Assembly will vote on a new mill rate. While all of the mill rates in Kodiak’s service areas and fire protection areas are set to remain the same, the Assembly will consider an overall increase to the areawide base mill rate, from 10.75 mils to 12.75.
A mill represents $1 of tax for every $1,000 of the property’s value. So, 10.75 mils means that for every $1,000 your property is valued, your tax is $10.75.
On a $100,000 home, for instance, under the current mill rate, most homeowners would pay $1075 a year, or about $90 a month. Under the new propose mill rate, most homeowners would pay $1,275 a year, or about $106 a month, an increase of $16 each month. An average $300,000 home in Kodiak would see their monthly tax bill jump $50, from about $270 a month to about $320.
The last time the borough raised the mill rate was several years ago, so many Kodiakans are asking how the new mill rate would be calculated.
Comprising the overall base mill rate are four areawide fund categories: the Borough’s general fund, the Education support fund, the debt service fund, and the Renewal and Replacement, or R&R, fund.
Three of these fund categories are set to increase. The general fund mill rate is proposed to more-than-double from .56 mils to 1.39 mils. The Debt Service fund would also double from 1.79 mils to 3.63 mils, and the R&R rate would increase slightly by .02 mils.
However, the Education support mill rate would see a nearly 10% decrease, from 7.45 mils to 6.76 mils.
Facing budget shortfalls, Borough Mayor Bill Roberts explained how the budget was prepared.
“I just think cutting a few thousand dollars here are there will not get us where we want. We have to talk in generalities.”
The assembly will take up these issues at this week’s regular meeting, Thursday at 6:30pm, which you can hear on 100.1 KMXT or at kmxt.org
For KMXT News, I’m Jared Griffin
In the interest of full disclosure, Griffin is the spouse of a Kodiak Island Borough School District Boardmember. Other items that the assembly will be considering this week are approving R&R contracts for new siding for North Star Elementary School and a study on upgrades to the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium.