Borough assembly members called for a fourth reading of the fiscal year 2017 budget in order to better prepare for possible cuts from the state.
Though the Commercial Passenger Vessel excise tax has been reinstated in the state’s budget, it still needs Governor Bill Walker’s signature to pass. Skagway Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. suggested the table take a closer look at the possible cuts and how it would affect the municipality.
During its third reading on June 2, assembly members approved requests to various groups, including a $1,500 match to the Boy Scouts, a $750 match to the little league and $10,000 to the Historic District Commission’s plaque program.
The Marine Highway Ad Hoc Committee requested $10,000, with $2,000 going to the Southeast Conference’s Long Term Strategic Plan for the Alaska Marine Highway System.
To prepare for possible follow-ups on the study and to allow for their regular work, the assembly agreed to allocate $12,000 to the committee.
“I think it’s wise to have a little bit of money sitting there. We can always do budget amendments later. In my opinion it’s easier to do it now,” Mayor Mark Schaefer said. “They may or may not spend it all. But we don’t have a choice in advocating for our ferry system.”
Funding for engineering of the proposed senior center was suggested at $617,000, but was left at $350,000 so as not to lead project bidders to a higher figure.
Assembly members also agreed to add $20,000 for KHNS public radio, but had a few stipulations.
When funding was last requested by KHNS, Burnham said Skagway’s station was promised increased infrastructure and better electrical equipment. He said they fell on hard times and continued to ask for the same amount.
“We also have the CVB who buys advertising with KHNS and probably other departments too when they have events or something. Most likely we’re paying for those,” he said. “I guess the question is, is the $20,000 paying for us to have a reporter? Is it paying for them to continue doing reports on Skagway? Or is it getting us advertising as well?”
He said he tried to find funding for the station in the Haines borough budget, but was not able to.
“Are they getting a radio station just because they’re there by default and we’re paying for it?” he said.
Assembly members agreed to allocate $20,000 to the station, but Burnham suggested that the municipality get more information before it’s handed out and request a resolution that follows the money, so as to be specific with how it is used.