The Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly is working on next year’s Borough budget, and on Monday night, the panel made some amendments to the spending plan. The Mat Su Borough’s proposed $400.7 spending package is undergoing modifications by the Borough Assembly, particularly in the areas of education and emergency services funding. At Tuesday night’s special meeting in Palmer, nine amendments were approved, amendments which increased grant funding for the Borough’s three main cities, benefited fire service areas by providing extra money to fund positions, and increased Borough support for Youth Court and the Borough Sexual Assault Response Team program. However, the main discussion of the meeting focused on Borough School District funding. A one point five million dollar increase in education funding proposed by Assemblyman Matthew Beck was reduced by 150 thousand dollars in the final round of voting. Assemblyman Matthew Beck:
” Our mil rate, I think, right now, with the amendments that we’ve done, I think it is 9.8. So it’s up slightly, it is still under ten. I think our goal is to keep it under ten, I think that that’s our goal. I think we’ll be able to accomplish it and still be able to provide services. I think that when the school ends up getting to keep its fund balance, that’s going to offset the shortfall. “
Beck says he’ll submit another amendment on Wednesday allowing the School District to keep it’s fund balance.
But Assemblyman Jim Sykes had a warning for the body:
“I just want us to think about where we are going real seriously. Because what we did with the schools is deficit spending. We’re gonna start with a one point four million dollar hole next year, and we will be asked to fully fund education. And I really think this was a prime opportunity that we really should hve gone probably to the taxpayers and said, ‘this is our priority and we have to raise your taxes.'”
Discussions on funding increases for Borough Emergency Services to provide a boost to wages and benefits, and to allow for two new positions were inconclusive, and postponed until Wednesday night’s special Borough Assembly meeting. Tuesday’s [May 12] special Assembly meeting on budget deliberations has been canceled.