Assembly to get first budget glimpse

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will get its first peek at the borough’s proposed fiscal year 2013 budget at its Tuesday meeting.

 


While the official budget document has not been released, Ordinance 2012-19 outlines the proposed $73.1 million to be placed into the borough’s general fund. The budget for fiscal year 2012, which ends June 30, totaled $71.4 million.


“The challenge with this budget was to try to preserve the existing services that we have and still present a responsible budget to the assembly,” said Paul Ostrander, chief of staff for the borough. “I think that is where we are at.”


Total general government operation is proposed at $16.8 million, an increase from fiscal year 2012’s $15.8 million.


Other details included in the proposed budget include:


- $43.5 million for the Kenai Peninsula School District for operations and in-kind services.


- $2.5 million for the school district’s debt service.


- $1 million for school capital projects revenue.


- $667,189 for postsecondary education.


- $8 million for solid waste.


“The majority of the increases you are going to see in the budget are personnel increases and that’s the nature of things,” Ostrander said.

“That’s what you see a lot of times.”


Included in those personnel cost increases were an additional 15.5 percent hike in health care costs not including increases in staffing levels and wage increases totaling 4.6 percent — 3.6 percent cost of living adjustment based on the Anchorage consumer price index and a negotiated 1 percent raise, Ostrander said.


“If your definition of ‘status quo’ is that there hasn’t been significant changes, yes, that’s the truth,” Ostrander said. “We’ve covered additional costs that we’re incurring and that’s really what we’ve done here.”


Although official revenue estimates and property assessments will not made available until the full budget is released Tuesday, Ostrander said the borough would likely be deficit-spending.


“The idea in this budget here was to utilize the fund balance less to balance the budget than we have in the last several years, but still utilize some of that fund balance because we are wanting to get our fund balance in the range that we want to see,” he said.


The borough is trying to bring the fund balance — the borough’s savings account — into the “sweet spot,” Ostrander said, and that’s somewhere between being “significantly” above the minimum amount and below the maximum.


Ostrander said he and borough mayor Mike Navarre were “very happy” with where the borough sits financially.


“We are striving to present a responsible budget that has been vetted completely, scrutinized department by department and that’s what we are striving for,” he said.


The borough assembly meets at 7 p.m. in the George A. Navarre Borough Administration Building at 144 N. Binkley Street in Soldotna.Public hearings on the budget are scheduled for May 15 and June 5.

Brian Smith can be reached at brian.smith@peninsulaclarion.com.

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