The Ketchikan City Council wrapped up its final scheduled budget work session Monday, but still needs to adopt the 2016 City of Ketchikan and Ketchikan Public Utilities spending plans.
During the meeting, the Council approved a proposal developed by City Manager Karl Amylon that is meant to keep closer tabs on overtime costs next year. The City and KPU spent more than $1.4 million on overtime this year.
Amylon’s plan calls for department heads to watch their overtime budgets, and if a department has spent 85 percent of that line item, the department head must come up with a strategy to control additional overtime.
If a department end up needing more money for overtime than budgeted, it must be approved by Amylon, or – if more than $12,000 is required – it must come before the City Council.
Council Member Judy Zenge, who initially brought forward the issue of overtime costs, said she’d prefer to require a plan of action after 75 percent of a department’s overtime budget is spent, and she would like to cut the overtime budgets for specific departments.
“I don’t really know what goes into telecommunications, but I found their budget to be excessive and I would like to cut their overtime budget this year by at least 15 percent,” she said.
According to the draft KPU budget, the Telecommunications Division overtime account for the coming year is $216,000.
Other Council members preferred to see how Amylon’s plan works before adjusting it, and City Mayor Lew Williams III said that the Council can approve the plan while still adjusting individual department budgets. The plan passed 6-1 with Zenge voting no.
Also Monday, the Council voted 6-1 to approve a 2-percent cost-of-living salary increase for non-union KPU employees. That will cost an additional $42,000. Council Member Dick Coose voted no.
At the end of the special meeting, Council Member Bob Sivertsen reminded the Council that the budgets were built on the assumption that there will be some rate increases for services, including 8 percent for water, 8 percent for wastewater and 5 percent for electricity.
City management will bring ordinances back to the Council in January to make those rate hikes official. Sivertsen says if the Council doesn’t want rate increases, now is the best time to debate that issue, rather than after the budgets have been approved.
“I know in the past we got into a situation when we went through the budget, then decide to cut the rates, which affected the whole budget, which affected reserves,” he said.
The Council will take another look at the city and KPU budgets during its regular meeting on Thursday.