By Melinda Munson
First reading of 2020.5 budget
Borough Manager Brad Ryan expected that transitioning Skagway to a calendar year budget in 2021 via a six month transitional budget would make for a “unique” process.
“While the half-year budget was originally going to be a bit of a stressor on the Assembly and staff, it now appears it will provide the much needed flexibility to react to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ryan said.
Throughout the budget planning, Skagway’s financial situation changed dramatically with the cancellation of over half of the cruise ships that would typically tour Southeast Alaska. With the situation in continual flux, the 2020 cruise ship schedule has yet to be published by Skagway’s Tourism Department.
“When the budget process began, the MOS was looking for an estimated 6% increase of cruise ship passengers and another year of increased revenue from all sources (primarily sales tax, excise tax and property tax.) However, in the last few weeks those projections of increased revenue have disappeared. I am now anticipating a near total loss of sales tax for the final quarter of fiscal year 2020 and I anticipate significant loss of revenue throughout the six month fiscal year 20.5 budget,” Ryan said.
Ryan stated he tried to cut funding “when it would not have a negative impact on the community and still maintain forward progress for when the community opens for business.”
Four of six seasonal emergency responders for the fire department were removed. Parks and Recreation maintained its seven seasonal crew members. The Dahl Memorial Clinic budget remained the same.
The budget is scheduled for two more readings. An Assembly of the Whole Committee will be held April 28 at 6 p.m. in Assembly chambersto review the proposed budget. The 2020.5 budget can be read in full under the government/ordinance link at: https://www.skagway.org/ordinances/providing-establishment-and-adoption-budget-fiscal-year-20205.
Skagway Deal Phase One approved
Details of the first phase of the Skagway Deal, a plan by the Municipality to keep local workers employed during a potentially disastrous cruise ship season, were presented to the Assembly. The plan was unanimously approved.
“Not only will the program allow the MOS to complete needed projects but the money to pay for these projects will keep local residents employed and ensure that cash keeps circulating through the community,” Mayor Andrew Cremata said. The proposed projects are listed below.
• Cleanup and removal of “derelict items and structures” at the Nahku A-frame, cost estimate: $25,000
• Upgrades including insulation, skirting and floor updates at the Nahku A-frame, cost estimate: $25,000
• Expansion of garbage shed on the north end of Skagway. When the new combined garbage and recycling site is opened, the shed will be repurposed for Parks & Recreation storage. Cost estimate: $15,000
• Recreation center upgrades, cost estimate: $25,000
• Install five electric car chargers, MOS already ordered, cost estimate: $9,500
• Kayak rack for Nahku Bay, cost estimate: $10,000
• Install LED lights on Congress Way, cost estimate: $50,000
• Increase fruit tree reimbursement from $20 to $50, cost estimate: $200
• Reduce eligible age for Higher Ground garden boxes from 65 to 55, cost estimate: $1,000
Skagway School budget presented
The Assembly unanimously approved Skagway School District’s fiscal year 2020-2021 budget.
“It is because of your continued and unwavering support that we’ve been able to maintain our standing as the highest achieving district in the state of Alaska in every assessed content area (math, language arts, and science),” said Dr. Joshua Coughran, superintendent.
Skagway School currently serves 155 pupils from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. Total operating revenue from the adopted budget is $3,241,976. Total operating expenditures are $3,164,354, leaving a remaining balance of $77,621.