Borough Assembly Shoots Down Mayor’s Vetoes

Last week, Matanuska Susitna Borough mayor Larry DeVilbiss threatened to veto line items in the Borough budget.. and last night [wednesday] he did just that. But the Borough Assembly had a different plan.  

Mayor DeVilbiss presented the Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly on Wednesday with a veto document outlining seven budget items that he considers unnecessary spending. DeVilbiss said he wants to keep Borough spending to the limited powers granted to the Borough, and “hold the line on grants that go outside those powers.”

“The grant process, which I am suggesting, is a wide-open door that needs to change.”, DeVilbiss told the panel, adding that grants are “the easiest money to get in this state, with no limits on how much or what for. ”

First item on the mayor’s hit list, $106, 000 dollars in grants to the cities of Palmer, Wasilla and Houston.

Assemblymembers quickly voted to override that one, and went on to override mayoral vetoes against grants for a Sexual Assault Response Team for Wasilla, and for the Youth Court.

But the veto against a $150,000 grant for the Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program was sustained. This item caused the greatest debate of the evening, but gained only four votes in support of an override. Assemblymember Steve Colligan supported the override, saying the grant, which would fund the purchase of land for a shooting range, would only be a one – time ask and would benefit kids.

“But I’ll remind you that this year we passed through $200,000  and some for a kitchen at a ski facility, we’ve invested $ 4,000,000  at a Nordic ski facility, and we’re paving the road there, for that group of young folks. And all sorts of other things, and as was pointed out, we’ve had [target shooting ]Olympic champions and the like, and I don’t think that this competes with the adult shooting ranges, over time I think it will actually augment it. ” Colligan said.

But Assemblymember Jim Sykes had concerns about process, saying

“Every other one of these proposals had some kind of process.. there was an ask. To me, this looks just like an end run around process, and that’s one of my main objectio

Assemblymembers Matthew Beck and Barbara Doty joined Sykes in voting against the override.

The shooting range funding was the only veto that stood. Vetoes against funding for Willow Fire Service Area, Houston’s Fire Hall and Big Lake’s Community Center failed.

DeVilbiss expressed his disappointment, saying that Borough revenues are not the problem, but Borough spending is.

“This wide open window, which was just a niche a few years ago, to help the libraries and the cities, has blossomed into a bundle of things that is going to keep getting bigger and bigger.”

Borough spending and subsequent taxation has consequences to Borough property owners, DeVilbiss admonished, noting the thirty pages of foreclosure notices now going to print.

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone. Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen