Residents will have another opportunity to voice their opinions about police service outside the Haines townsite at a meeting Tuesday night.
The borough is looking into extending the police department’s jurisdiction to areas previously served by a Haines-based Alaska State Trooper.
The Haines trooper post closed earlier this year. There is still a local wildlife trooper.
Even if the assembly does decide to move forward with a new “community safety” service area, there’s disagreement about how to pay for it.
Right now, borough code says area-specific services should be funded by property taxes. Assemblyman Tom Morphet said there’s a reason for that.
“The way the revenues are traditionally generated in an area is from property, which makes sense,” Morphet said. “In other words, we’re not taxing people outside that area for services that go only to that area when we levy a property tax.”
Currently, the borough does not follow code in the way it funds townsite services. Three services are confined to the townsite: police, public works and animal control. Haines uses property and sales tax along with state money to support the amenities.
Although code limits service area funding to property taxes, Haines Borough Charter is more flexible. Borough manager Debra Schnabel encouraged the assembly to align code with charter to allow for flexibility.
“If we’re going to expand the police service area, for example, and only allowed the funding for that area to be paid for by property tax, I think it would be a pretty harsh reality to bear,” Schnabel said.
But Morphet said the borough shouldn’t change the rules for the possible police service expansion.
“I see this as an attempt to address a specific problem by making a substantial change in a good law and I don’t know that that’s wise,” Morphet said.
The assembly ultimately postponed a decision on the service area funding question to its Sept. 12 meeting.
If the borough were to seek establishment of a new service area, it would have to be ratified by voters.
There is an assembly committee meeting to discuss policing outside the townsite Tuesday at 6 p.m. in assembly chambers.