The Alaska Legislature continues to struggle to come up with a funding plan for the state’s education system. That has put a real wrench into plans for the local school budget.
Because of deadlines and timetables, the Kodiak Island Borough School District must present a budget for next year to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly on Thursday. To meet the Thursday deadline, the school board had to approve its proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Budget at last night’s regular meeting.
So, how do you prepare a school budget in the range of $50 million when the bulk of your funding comes from the legislature and the legislature hasn’t yet figured out how much it will provide in funding?
The Answer: You base the budget on what you do know, pick a mid-range figure for what the state will provide, and you hope for the best.
The school board and borough assembly will meet in a special joint work session on Thursday. Hopefully, by then they will know what the legislature will fund so they can adjust the proposed budget based on actual figures.
The school board approved a $51 million budget for Fiscal Year 2015 which begins July 1.
The budget assumes the legislature increases the Base Student Allocation by $185, and it asks the borough for $522,000 more than the current year.
As far as capital wish lists go, the city has a relatively small one. The four item capital improvement projects list was one of many topics of conversation during last night’s city council work session. Kodiak’s Representative Alan Austerman and Senator Gary Stevens were also present during the work session and offered legislative insights on the city’s proposed projects.
Before the group got down to discussing each item, Austerman helped paint a rough picture of what the state’s budget might look like this year.
“I’m anticipating, the governor’s got a five year reduction plan in the budget. And we’re waiting to see what that reduction plan this coming year. Last year was his first stab at it I guess you could say, would it be his first year of holding line on the budget from there. There are rumors out there, and I can’t confirm them yet, that we’ll take a billion dollars out of the budget next year, compared to this year. So we will reduce the size of government this second time around. The state of Alaska is no different from the federal government in trying to maintain in control our spending versus our income.”
As for the city’s CIP list, the number one item is replacing the Monashka pumphouse. The city is asking $2.5 million from the state to put toward the $6.8 million project. The current pumphouse is more than 40 years old and operates four pumps from the 1940s.
The second item on the list is a $400,000 request to help replace the E911 equipment, which City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski said requires constant maintenance and desperately needs to be replaced. Continue reading
With a fast-paced legislative session wrapping up on time Sunday, Representative Alan Austerman says Kodiak fared very well in this year’s capital budget, despite much lower spending than last year. Austerman said in his newsletter that state capital spending this year will be at least $737-million less.
Some of the highlights Austerman pointed out is $3.3-million for the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association, $4.5-million for a leachate treatment plant at the expanded Kodiak landfill, and the same amount for airport improvements in Old Harbor. The Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport will receive $27.6-million in federal pass-through funds for continued improvements.
The governor had requested $900,000 for maintenance at the Kodiak Launch Complex, but the legislature slashed that by more than half to $400,000, while another $165,000 Parnell requested for unspecified modernization was zeroed out completely.
Port Lions and Ouzinkie both received funds for dock projects, which Austerman said will allow them to finish the improvements. Also in Ouzinkie, $1.8-million has been provided for repair and replacement for the ailing Mahoona Lake Dam. The Akhiok water system also got nearly a million dollars for critical repairs to its water and sewer system.
In all, Austerman’s House District 35 will receive $56.7-million in capital improvements in this year’s budget. More than half – $30.6-million – is federal funds, with $26-million coming from state funds.
Here is a link to the capital budget.
A long time fixture in the halls of the state capital retired yesterday. He was an even longer fixture in Kodiak, and is now on his way out of state. Doug Letch, aide to Senator Gary Stevens attended his final legislative hearings late last week in the State House, sitting in for his boss.
Letch was answering questions from the House Finance Committee about Stevens’ bill expanding the Marine Transportation Advisory Board by one seat and designating it for the Homer-Kodiak area. The committee was receptive to the bill, and discussion soon turned to Letch’s retirement, with Representative Bill Stoltz taking a few minutes to praise Letch for his hard work in Juneau and Kodiak.
Letch first came to Kodiak as a newscaster for KMXT radio, after working at public radio stations in Dillingham and McGrath. He was one of the founders of the Kodiak Football League over a decade ago.
There was a very slight hiccup in the legislative process to name Kodiak State Airport for Alaska Flag designer Benny Benson. Wednesday on the State House floor, the bill passed unanimously and was transmitted to the Senate for its concurrence, however the House Rules Committee inadvertently deleted the word “Kodiak” from the name, proposing simply “Benny Benson State Airport.”
When the bill came up last night in the Senate, it was pointed out that state regulations require the city’s name be associated with a memorial airport, and was sent back to the House for amendment.
The move to name the Kodiak airport after Benson comes in the year he would have turned 100. Continue reading
Yesterday, by the slimmest of margins, two-term Alaska Board of Fisheries member Vince Webster’s reappointment was rejected by a joint session of the Alaska House and Senate.
After attacks on him by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association stretching into last week, Webster was voted down 30-to-29. A commercial fisherman from King Salmon, Webster got the support of legislators from much of coastal Alaska, though failed to get enough support from the powerful Southcentral region.
Representative Bill Stoltze of Chugiak was just one of two legislators who rose to speak against reappointment. He criticized Webster for basically being too skilled at the process of fish board politics. Continue reading