MAT-SU—Last night (May 15) the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly overturned three mayoral vetoes on the new budget. Monday night the Assembly adopted a budget with a new areawide mill rate for next year’s taxes. This year’s and next year’s tax rates are the same except for the increase approved by voters in October for road and school bonds. That increase is $33 per $100,000 of assessed value. The average assessed home of $211,400 will see a $70 tax increase for the new school and road infrastructure.
Here’s all the numbers to compare. The new mill rate is 9.691. The voter-approved bonds equate to 0.33 mills. Last year’s mill rate was 10.051 with a tax rebate that gave a net mill rate of 9.361. The non-areawide mill rate is 0.489.
Mayor Larry DeVilbiss said Tuesday night that overall, he is pleased with the mill rate, and the civil, cooperative effort to lower it, though he said he still had concerns with the overall cost of doing business in the operating budget. He submitted three vetoes.
• to delete Assembly memberships with the Alaska Municipal League and the National Association of Counties for $44,803.
• to reduce by half a new $3 per hour pay raise for all Borough on-call responders
• to reduce a grant to Youth Court from $75,000 to $30,000
On the responder raise reduction veto, Mayor Larry DeVilbiss said, “I’m sympathetic to the direction we’re going I just felt like it was too big a jump for one year without due consideration to the mill rates and reserves…”
The Assembly overturned all of the vetoes. Assembly Member Darcie Salmon voted to override the veto on reducing raises for the on-call responders. In a wheelchair, Salmon said when he was hit by a vehicle 15 years ago, Borough responders brought him back to life.
Click here to listen to Assembly Member Darcie Salmon on on-call responder raises.
A night prior, on Monday, the budget was reconsidered by Deputy Mayor Ron Arvin as he wanted to lower the mill rate—to the exact number—as last year’s mill rate, other than the increase approved by voters for new road and school bonds.
Arvin moved to reduce the mill rate by pulling from three separate reserve funds.
Click here to listen to Deputy Mayor Ron Arvin on reconsidering the budget Monday night to further lower the mill rate.
The adopted fiscal year 2013 budget is being assembled and will be posted. Here are some of the many amendments to the budget:
• a 20 percent reduction in contracts with consultants, sponsored by Deputy Mayor Ron Arvin
• a 25 percent reduction in overtime for most departments—Deputy Mayor Arvin
• reduced mill rates for several fire and road service areas—Assembly Members
• a 25 percent cut in travel, training, conference fees throughout the Borough—Deputy Mayor Arvin
• 4 added fire engineers and 1 deputy chief for the second largest department in the state—Assembly Member Vern Halter
• $3/hour pay raise for all Borough on-call responders without affecting mill rates— Assembly Member Arvin
• a help desk specialist for IT—Assembly Member Steve Colligan
• increase Sutton Library assistant to 75 percent of full time—Assembly Member Warren Keogh
• increase Talkeetna Library assistant to 80 percent of full time, Manager’s budget
Among the projects/programs:
• a $385,000 appropriation for the Talkeetna library project—Assembly Member Halter
• a spatial data acquisition project so LiDAR will match up with parcel maps, ensuring responders arrive at the right address—Assembly Member Colligan
• a consolidated dispatch study and implementation plan for $300,000 and an EMS management and performance study for $50,000—Assembly Member Colligan
• Hatcher Pass Development Plan, $200,000 for real estate development plan and $107,000 for natural gas crossing at Little Su River—Assembly Member Jim Colver
• $510,000 was restored to the budget, anticipating the Assembly would raise the exemption from $250,000 to $1 million for taxes on business inventory, which reduces the number of companies to those with the largest inventory from 112 companies to 16 companies in an effort to relocate commercial business inventory to the MAT-SU—Assembly Members
• $282,000 for Port MacKenzie repairs and projects— Assembly Member Noel Woods
Among the appropriations:
• city block grants of $35,000 to Houston, $65,000 to Palmer, $75,000 to Wasilla—Assembly Members Halter, Keogh, Colligan
• increasing funding to Youth Court for a total of $75,000—Assembly Member Colligan
Photo: Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly, front left to right: Mayor Larry DeVilbiss, Darcie Salmon; back row left to right, Vern Halter, Warren Keogh, Deputy Mayor Ron Arvin, Steve Colligan, Noel Woods, and Jim Colver. Photo Patty Sullivan/MSB.