Ketchikan’s borough budget is up for another round of debate Monday. And this time, it likely won’t include a planned three percent raise for non-union borough employees.
Cruise cancellations spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic have hit the budget hard — borough officials say they’re assuming no ships will visit Ketchikan this year. That means a 20 percent reduction in anticipated sales tax revenues. And even with cuts to capital projects, travel and one-time expenses, borough officials expect a $2.4 million deficit.
So the Borough Assembly decided to cut costs. At its last meeting on May 1, the body voted to nix a planned three percent raise for its 89 non-union borough employees. The pay bump was intended to bring public-sector salaries in line with those in the private sector.
Cutting the raise for non-union workers is expected to save about $125,000, Finance Director Cynna Gubatayo told assembly members at its last meeting. Union-represented employees have a three percent raise built into their contracts.
The body will have a chance to debate the cut again Monday.
The assembly will also consider removing $400,000 intended for heating system repairs at Ketchikan High School from next fiscal year’s budget. The project would be moved to the current budget to allow work to get underway.
Two of the high school’s three boilers are broken. The school district’s maintenance director told Ketchikan’s School Board on Wednesday that if the third one fails during chilly fall weather, the school would be left without heat — and a freeze could cause untold damage to the building.
The project is expected to cost just shy of $360,000.
In other business, the assembly is scheduled to adopt property tax rates for the next fiscal year. The borough-wide tax is expected to stay flat at 5 mills. And officials recommend holding rates flat in three of the borough’s four service areas.
The only exception is the Old Dairy Road Service Area — a new entity approved by voters in October. That was set up to pay for maintenance on the road, which is south of Saxman. Officials recommend setting the initial tax rate for Old Dairy Road property owners at 5.8 mills.
Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday by teleconference. It’ll be streamed at the borough’s website and broadcast on local cable channels. Those who’d like to offer testimony can do so by calling the borough clerk’s office at 228-6616 prior to 4 p.m. Monday. Written comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.