Efforts to maintain a congenial atmosphere during budget deliberations paid off on Thursday evening, as the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly approved the Borough’s 2015 fiscal plan with minimum debate.
There was a definite Kumbaya moment in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly chambers Thursday night when Deputy Mayor Ron Arvin read the motion.
“Mr. Mayor, I move to adopt, I move to set the mill rates at 9.662 area-wide and 0.52 non-area-wide. Ok, is there objection? Hearing none, that passes,” Arvin said.
The Mat-Su Borough Assembly stayed well under the Borough’s cap in setting the mill rate for next year’s budget. Mayor Larry DeVilbiss called the next question
“So, we have the final motion before us, as amended at least 24 time, or 25 or 26. Is there further discussion? Is there objection. Hearing none, it passes by unanimous consent. Congratulations,” DeVilbiss said.
Assembly members for the most part, called the current budget process the fastest in years.
“This first budget was an enlightening process, and since we finished it in such short time, it was more like lightning,” Assembly member Jim Sykes said.
It took two evenings of debate to get to the final question. The budget was amended 24 times, but the Assembly managed to lower the mill rate while retaining all employees.
“And the public was happy. That’s one thing I really noticed,” Assemblyman Jim Colver said. “I don’t know how many budgets I participated in where it was usually clamoring for school money or, I think the level of service or EMS, fire, or roads, schools. The public seems pretty satisfied with the level of service, otherwise, they would have been here.”
The spending package is expected to top $400 million when the final accounting is complete.
The spending plan includes increases for Mat-Su’s school district, and for emergency response, and includes funding for services like Youth Court and a Sexual Assault Response Team. The Assembly funded outdoor recreation projects and programs from Meadow Lakes to Hatcher Pass, while providing money for flood plain mitigation program information and for a FEMA grant writer to apply for FEMA matching funds.
Mayor DeVilbiss has until May 20 to line up his vetoes.
“So I’m not going to absolutely tell you there won’t be any vetoes,” he said. “But, I have one question to the school district at this point, and if that’s alright, I don’t see a veto at this point.”
DeVilbiss would not say more than that Thursday night. A reconsideration vote is set for Friday at 5 p.m.