Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Assembly continues reducing tax levy

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Next Tuesday May 18, the Assembly continues deliberations from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.

The education budget has not yet been debated and last year represented 52 percent of local dollars and 75 percent of the comprehensive Borough budget.This year Borough Manager John Duffy proposed an increase in school funding to $46.94 million, which is included in the present mill rate. The school district is asking for $52.85 million.

At this stage of deliberations, the proposed areawide mill levy is nearly the same as the present fiscal year’s levy of 9.98. The proposed non-areawide mill levy is at 0.456 as of today.

Areawide means services and taxes in the Borough and cities such as planning, parks and recreation, emergency medical services and historic preservation. Non-Areawide means services and taxes outside the cities such as libraries, animal care and economic development.

A mill levy is the number of dollars a taxpayer pays for every $1,000 of assessed value.

The Borough has long been the fastest growing community in Alaska. Since the 2,000 U.S. Census the MAT-SU has grown 42 percent.

Among the amendments last night, the Assembly voted against all new positions except one: the financial analyst position. The workload this employee will manage is the Borough’s arbitrage requirements and debt schedule.

The Susitna Ferry will winter over in Ketchikan, the Assembly agreed in a budget amendment, which will save $200,000 over wintering the vessel here. The $70 million Susitna Ferry is nearly complete but the remaining work and sea trials on it push completion to the fall. Delivering the ship across the Gulf of Alaska in high winter seas has never been an acceptable option. It would reduce the useful life of the vessel. The Borough is pursuing contracts for service in Southeast Alaska during winter to generate revenue. Possible leads are with the Alaska Marine Highway System, which has some ferries in drydock.

Other amendments helped roll back the mill rates for five fire service areas.

Speedhumps and popular traffic calming measures were reduced by $50,000. New vehicles, new computers, some overtime wages for night time meetings, an Emergency Services building rental are among the items removed from the proposed budget.

The next meeting is in the Borough Assembly Chambers in Palmer at 350 E. Dahlia Ave.