Ketchikan’s borough assembly is set to finalize the borough and school district budgets Monday evening. The assembly’s spending plan would provide all but roughly $350,000 of the $12.2 million in borough funding requested by Ketchikan’s school board.
The school district’s budget request asked for about $1.1 million more in funding this year than last year to pay down a deficit in its health insurance fund. School board members have pitched it as a one-time request made necessary by pandemic-related health care expenses.
But at the assembly’s last meeting, some said they were skeptical. Assembly Member Jeremy Bynum said he was concerned that without structural changes to the district’s health insurance program — including premium hikes — the program would require continued cash infusions.
Assembly Member David Landis floated the $350,000 cut as a compromise. The reduction allows the budget to pass with a simple majority. The full funding request would have required a two-thirds supermajority to allow the borough’s education fund to dip below the minimum balance of $2 million.
The updated funding request comes up for a vote on Monday. As written, the borough assembly’s education funding measure would leave the school district’s $48 million spending authority in place. That would allow the school district to pursue outside funding to make up the gap.
The borough’s non-school budget is also up for a final vote Monday. The spending plan was left unchanged by the assembly at its last meeting. Borough Mayor Rodney Dial pledged to veto a roughly $1,600 grant to a local LGBTQ organization included in the budget. It’s part of a roughly $390,000 package of grants to local organizations.
In other business, Ketchikan’s borough assembly is scheduled to finalize a measure raising the mayor and assembly’s pay. The borough mayor’s pay would double to $1,000 a month, plus $75 for each meeting. The assembly’s monthly pay would rise from $150 to $350 per month, and members would be paid an additional $150 per meeting. The raises are projected to cost just under $60,000 and would take effect after this fall’s municipal elections. It would be the mayor and assembly’s first raises since 1999, according to the borough.
Ketchikan’s assembly meets at 5:30 pm Monday in the White Cliff Building on First Avenue. There are opportunities to speak at the beginning of the meeting and during public hearings. The meeting is livestreamed at the borough’s website and broadcast on local cable channels.