In less than an hour, the Kenai City Council touched on the city’s budget, water clarity, setting a special meeting regarding the city attorney’s contract and the airport before adjourning for the evening.
The city’s $22.64 million proposal for fiscal year 2013 leaves the property tax mill rate at 3.85 mills. The budget is up for public comment and a decision at the council’s June 6 meeting and must be adopted by June 10. No members of the public commented on Wednesday.
An April 3 budget draft released by the city showed a more than $135,000 surplus in the general fund in the new budget proposals, however after a special budget work session council members raised expenditures slightly to about $15 million in the general fund which should balance the budget.
The newest budget proposal which is available for viewing in the city clerk’s office and on the city’s web site does not account for an additional $183,434 in revenue sharing money coming from the state which would again result in a projected surplus for the next fiscal year.
The total budget is up 5.15 percent, or $1.1 million from fiscal year 2012 and leaves about $12 million in the city’s general fund balance.
If passed, several capital projects are included in the budget’s general fund the largest of which are $100,000 for computer servers which would come out of the equipment replacement fund and $120,000 for the installation of voice over internet protocol.
The majority of the capital projects are either currently funded or proposed to be funded through state grants according to a city budget memo.
The plan also proposes putting about $175,000 toward retiring the $2 million spent in 2010 contributed toward the Kenai Community Library expansion project.
Although the latest projections for the current fiscal year’s budget show a deficit of more than $123,000 due to non-budgeted appropriations, Kenai City Manager Rick Koch said, overall, the city is doing well.
“We’re in a very sound financial place,” Koch said on Thursday. “Our operating reserves of our general fund are 75-80 percent of one year’s budget. It’s a lot. Normally if there wasn’t some purpose for some of that money I would say that’s probably more money than needs to be in an operating budget, but it does give you some flexibility. If the bottom fell out of things, we’ve got the flexibility to make long term decisions rather than short term ‘hair on fire’ ones.”
Council members also passed an ordinance amending the rates and fees for landing and terminal rents at the Kenai Municipal Airport as part of the last year of a five-year process that raised fees by 10 percent every year.
Koch also spoke about progress on the city’s new 12-inch well, which should be in operation by the fall. However residents could see clearer water as soon as the second week in June.
“If the production is what we believe it will be, we will have volumes of water that will sustain our projected growth for the next 25 years,” Koch said. “So it’s an important component in our system. We’ve gotten by with one main production well for a long time and it’s not a great situation.”
Rashah McChesney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org