Answering a call from some citizens and a few members, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Tuesday voted to require borough staff to provide information on the fiscal impact of costs associated with most proposed legislation.
Borough Mayor Mike Navarre opposed the use of so-called fiscal notes saying that his experience in the Alaska State Legislature left him thinking they got in the way of making laws. However, following the vote, Navarre said he would make the process work.
Above criticism claiming that citizens will hold local government accountable to cost estimates and that fiscal notes would only add more costs to the legislative process, the assembly voted 7 to 2 in favor of trying it for one year. Prior to the vote, some members of the assembly asked proponents for one example where borough legislation was off the mark financially during the 50 years of government. Critics said the process will only add costs through staff time spent preparing cost estimates for assembly and citizen consideration.
District 7 Assemblyman Brent Johnson and and District 9 Assemblyman Mako Haggerty voted against.
Fiscal notes are cost estimates on the financial effect that any proposed legislation will have on public money or budgets. They are attached to proposed legislation for leaders and citizens to consider prior to hearings and enacting votes.
Assembly President Linda Murphy proposed adopting the use of fiscal notes, which are in common use by municipal and state governments around the nation. When an administration has done its job the work will include fiscal responsibility and the cost estimates will not be a problem, she said.
After much debate, Murphy amended her ordinance to contain a bottom-end dollar amount of $5,000 and included a one year sunset date to alleviate concerns of the “onerous” burden that the use of fiscal notes brings for some at the borough.
“We may find trouble or may find it good information,” she said.
Johnson’s dislike for fiscal notes rests in his claim that he’d never seen anyone predict the future before and felt the borough existed for 50 years without fiscal notes. Calling the plan unworthy, he said, “It will waste not save.”
Haggerty offered a double criticism for the new policy calling it a redundant cost and saying that elected leaders will be held to a financial “number that may or may not be realistic.”
“It will taint or color all ordinances from here on out,” Haggerty said.
Reach Greg Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.