Manager to present CBJ Assembly with budget proposal tonight

Juneau City Manager Kim Kiefer is proposing a biennial budget that calls for spending about $320-million per year over the next two years.

That includes the Juneau School District and Bartlett Regional Hospital budgets, both expected to be about $90-million per year.

CBJ Finance Director Craig Duncan says the spending plan actually cuts more than $10-million from the current year’s budget.

“For FY13 the actual number we’re looking at is about $318-million. And last year our total was $330-million,” says Duncan. “So, you can see that we actually have made some significant reductions in the budget.”

Duncan says Kiefer and former City Manager Rod Swope made most of the reductions by finding efficiencies in city departments. Certain positions were eliminated after employees retired or quit; others have been held vacant.

But as of a month ago the city was still facing a projected shortfall of more than $4-million over the next two years.

The Assembly directed the Manager’s Office not to use layoffs or cuts to services to balance the budget. Instead, they authorized the use of one time funds, not to exceed a million dollars; additional cuts to operations; and a small increase in the property tax mill levy, not to exceed 11 total mills.

Duncan says the one time money will come out of the city’s water and sewer expansion fund, which currently has more than $4-million in it, but no projects on the horizon.

The manager’s budget proposal calls for a mill rate increase of 0.4 mills next year, to 10.95 total mills. Duncan says property taxes need to go up anyway, due to the Auke Bay School bond proposition voters approved last fall.

“There’s two components of the mill levy. There’s the operational piece and there’s the debt service piece. The debt service being voter approved general obligation bonds,” Duncan says. “So, for FY13 – that’s the year starting this July 1st – that increase consists of .34 mills for operations and .06 mills for debt.”

If approved by the Assembly, it would be the first mill rate increase in about ten years. In recent years, the rate has been going down.

Duncan and Kiefer will present a budget overview to the Assembly Finance Committee tonight (Wednesday). The Assembly will then hold a special meeting to introduce the city and school district budgets, along with the mill levy ordinance.

Over the next month and a half, city department heads will present their budget proposals to the Finance Committee. The Assembly will then hold public hearings on the budget, which must be adopted by June 15th.