Tonight deliberations continue on the proposed 2011 Borough budget, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly Chambers in Palmer.
The Mat-Su Borough remains the fastest growing community in Alaska. Additionally, Borough taxpayers bear the responsibility for some $8.26 million in unfunded state mandates for property tax exemptions for seniors and disabled veterans.
Last Thursday was the second public hearing and the first night of deliberations. Assembly Members began reducing funds and debating over which funds should remain. Tonight the Assembly will start with the areawide mill rate at 10.363. The present fiscal year’s areawide mill rate is 9.98.
Assembly Members passed 10 amendments. Among them:
A reduction in $360,000 by deleting funding for the Eska Falls trail improvements and the relocation of Crevasse Morraine trailhead. The Assembly split on the vote and Mayor Talis Colberg broke the tie for the reduction.
Thursday night, more than 30 people testified before the Assembly at the Central MAT-SU Public Safety Building. Among them: were a group of emergency responders asking for better wages and some benefits to help reduce turnover and make response safer. A basic level firefighter earns $8.08 an hour, while responding to a fire. A paramedic earns $17.61/hour. An EMT earns $9.35/hour.
Parents and school district employees asked for full funding to schools. One employee said the District has been under-funded by millions in the past six years.
At the end of the meeting Mayor Colberg disagreed with the remarks, saying every year the School District budget has been increased. Calling the increases “substantial,” Colberg said the increases in funding have far outpaced the increases in school enrollment and inflation.
Devoted supporters of Animal Care testified, asking the Assembly to support the proposed budget, which includes two temporary workers. In a four-month period, the new shelter has reduced euthanasia rates to zero for adoptable pets.
Borough employees from the IT Department testified asking for a new web developer position. In April, the Borough website had 1.6 million page views and 26,000 visitors. The Borough has one webmaster. "The new position will bring real value by providing website automation and online services to far-flung areas of the Borough," Webmaster Jack Horner said.
View the proposed budget online http://www.matsugov.us. A budget link is under the front page slideshow.