Juneau faces declining revenues

Juneau City Manager Kim Kiefer and Finance Director Bob Bartholomew

City Manager Kim Kiefer and Finance Director Bob Bartholomew deliver bad revenue news to the Juneau Assembly Committee of the Whole. (Photo by Rosemarie Alexander/KTOO)

The City and Borough of Juneau needs nearly $5 million to balance its budget over the next two years.

Finance Director Bob Bartholomew says federal, state and local revenue sources are down. He told the Assembly Monday night the figures are still preliminary, but members should be prepared for more fiscal challenges as they start their budget work next week.

Bartholomew said the city will lose two federal grants, and a projected 2 percent to 3 percent increase in property and sales taxes did not materialize.

“We’re still seeing slight increases in property tax and sales tax is projected to be flat year to year,” Bartholomew said. “So we backed  off our projections for (fiscal years) ’15 and ’16, and that’s why there’s not a lot of new revenue from our existing programs.”

Bartholomew said CBJ also forecast $800,000 a year in ambulance billings, but federal and local reimbursements have declined.

Despite the flat revenues, he said Juneau is coming out of the economic downturn that had a big impact in the Lower 48.

“We’ve gone through a 3 to 4-year period where a lot of pressure has been kept on the operating budget to hold the line, keep positions vacant, only essential services,” he said. “I think that was a successful approach to helping us get through that national economic downturn that affected Alaska in (fiscal years) ’09, ’10, ’11.”

Since several funding sources will be off the mark, City Manager Kim Kiefer said the city will be looking for ways to enhance revenue and reduce spending.

Bartholomew and Kiefer will present the proposed budget to Assembly members on March 19.  During the budget process, the Assembly will work as a Finance Committee of the Whole to determine the spending plan for fiscal years 2015 and 2016.

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