The Kenai Borough Assembly Tuesday raised the 911 tax charged on area phone bills by 30 cents a month at the request of borough Mayor Mike Navarre.
The 30 cent increase adds an additional $242,000 toward the expected total revenue needed to balance the 2014 E911 department budget of $2 million. The remaining money comes from charges to other emergency service providers, such as the Nikiski Fire Department.
The higher charge takes effect immediately.
The previous borough tax of $1.50 per month brought in about $1.2 million in revenue each year, about half of the total expense, according to Craig Chapman, director of finance.
Assemblyman Mako Haggerty (District 9) Tuesday said that the money had to come from somewhere. Whether the General Fund or the user, these monies will be spent.
"This is a way to cover the costs," Haggerty said.
State law allows the borough to collect 100 percent of the expense to operate the 911 program.
Though previous budgets have not collected all of the 911 tax allowed, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said his proposed 2014 budget was predicated on the assembly passing Tuesday’s measure to increase the 911 tax.
Even the 30 cent increase will not cover all the 911 expense, Navarre said.
The 2014 borough budget, which was approved following the 911 tax hike, expenditures exceed expected revenues by about $500,000; if the assembly voted no on the 911 tax increase, a total of about $750,000 would have come from the borough’s general fund savings to reach a balanced budget, Navarre said.
Any general fund money not spent on 911 services will stay put and help rebuild the overall general fund balance, he said.
The 911 tax is collected each month by the phone companies and is listed in detail on each phone bill.
While most of the sought increase will go to cover former general fund contributions, which was $329,065 in the 2013 budget, there are some actual departmental expense increases for fiscal year 2014.
A $93,000 increase over 2013 is mostly accounted for by adding a half-time position to the 911 workforce and a 39 percent increase in overtime projected for the year. Retirement accounts, insurance and vacation account for the remainder of the increase in expenses proposed in the 2014 budget.
Reach Greg Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.