The Haines Assembly on Tuesday night passed a budget for the next fiscal year. Few changes were made from the budget originally proposed by manager Dave Sosa, but the assembly did restore funding for animal control services through Haines Animal Rescue Kennel. It just didn’t happen the way some assembly members had planned.
Some of the biggest cuts in the borough budget come from the police department. That’s because of expected reductions in state funding. Hours will be reduced for two police dispatchers and the borough will freeze the hiring of one of the five police officer positions. Sosa had also recommended cutting the contract with HARK for animal control services to save money. He wanted the police department to take on many of those duties.
HARK representatives and other community members pushed back at that idea. They said the $16,000 left in the budget for animal control wouldn’t be enough to keep services at the level the community has come to expect.
At a recent finance committee meeting, members recommended the assembly make a one-time transfer from the townsite fund to keep animal control services at the same level for the next year.
But only four members were present at Tuesday’s assembly meeting. Finance committee chair Joanne Waterman was one of the two members absent. That means all four of the members at Tuesday’s meeting would have to agree on a motion for it to pass. George Campbell voted against it.
Instead, Campbell suggested taking the money needed to fully fund HARK from two sources – half of it from the townsite fund balance and half from the assembly’s Community Chest Fund. That $32,500 fund is set aside for the assembly to grant requests from area nonprofits.
The other assembly members supported the idea and the motion passed.
The four members also adopted the budget. Some state revenues are still uncertain as the legislature continues to debate the state budget. But most of Sosa’s proposed budget remained intact, including a quarter mill rate increase. That equals a 23 cent increase of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.