Mat-Su wish list on hold

With the next state legislative session in view, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough is coping with honing its capital improvements wish list to be in line with expected downturns in state funding.

Borough manager John Moosey told the Borough Assembly at its December 15 meeting that getting a share of state funding will be a challenge, but the Borough needs to push its issues.

“We’re going to have to be part of this solution or this pain. But my message has always been, we want to be a partner but we want to be an equal partner. If everyone else gets a trim, we don’t want to get a haircut. We don’t want to see Anchorage skate by while we take it in the shorts. ”

The six-year Capital Improvement Plan [CIP] is revised year to year as projects are completed. The Borough Assembly got dire funding news from lobbyist John Harris at it’s most recent meeting. Harris said capital improvements money is in the governor’s budget, but most of it is federal match money for road and sewer projects.

“Other selected projects that we have done in the past for municipalities and other things are not in there, and I don’t know if they will be. It will all depend on how the legislature wants to view and election year, capital projects, funding the budget and all that stuff. It ‘ll all be in the wash, as they say, but who knows when the wash is gonna come out this year.”

Moosey says the Borough is required by code to put together a six-year CIP program. He says the Assembly can revise the list, but cautions that removing items could backfire.

“Our history has been that we get money from the state of Alaska to move forward on these projects. We use very little taxpayer dollars, especially on the larger ones, on these projects but only as a match. If you want to remove stuff that’s not going to be funded, we are going to be left witb not even a plan.”

But some on the Assembly, like Assemblymember George McKee, said that any wish list under the current state fiscal scenario amounts to wishful thinking. McKee said the list was developed when oil was $106 a barrel.

“…and that money simply isn’t going to be there. Right now, the state is projecting that oil will stablize in two to three years at fifty dollars a barrel. This list was developed on $106 a barrel. It’s totally unrealistic.”

The Assembly was not able to agree on moving the CIP list forward without trimming it, and the item was tabled until January.