From taxes and federal dollars, to schools and capital projects — Juneau asks for public comment to build its budget

A group of first grade students play on the playground at Sayéik Gastineau Community School on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The school resumed in-person classes after spending months doing remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)
A group of first grade students play on the playground at Sayéik Gastineau Community School on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The city Assembly wants the public to weigh-in on how much funding it’s giving to the school district next year and other items as city leaders build the budget.  (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Juneau city leaders are putting together next year’s budget and they want the public to weigh in on Wednesday. 

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. residents can comment — via phone at 1-253-215-8782 and webinar ID: 914 3745 5050 or Zoom — on the city’s proposed tax hike, the plan for spending federal stimulus funds and using general funds, the school district budget and capital improvement project priorities. Written comments can be sent via email.

A broad overview of the budget that city manager Rorie Watt and the finance department proposed to the Assembly is at juneau.org/budget. 

Right now, the city is proposing increasing the school district’s budget by $838,500 over last year for a total of $92,396,600. That includes state and federal funding as well. But this is likely not the final amount that the school district will have to operate next year. State statute requires that the Assembly figure out how much it’s going to put into local educational funding by the end of April. 

The Assembly is also considering raising the mill rate by .20 to raise funds. That would bring the city’s total mill rate up to 10.86 mills — or $10.86 for every $1,000 of assessed property value 

However, property tax assessments increased significantly between 2020 and 2021 — because the assessor’s office is making big adjustments to commercial property taxes. So it’s also possible that the Assembly could leave the mill rate unchanged or even reduce it. 

The budget process is far from over — an Assembly finance committee is still reviewing individual department-level budgets throughout April and May. A final vote on the city’s full budget isn’t required until mid-June. 

Read next