Boost in property taxes helps city to fund programs

Posted: Thursday, June 03, 2004

Various Juneau city organizations likely will receive additional funding, partly because of additional property tax mills that the Assembly Finance Committee agreed to levy for schools Wednesday.

The committee, which includes all Assembly members, decided on between a 2.7 percent and 3.6 percent increase in property tax next year, mainly to fund education.

"I always operate on the principle that we are not going to increase the property tax this year," said Jeannie Johnson, chair of the Finance Committee. "I am disappointed but it is hard not to fund education."

Most of the money - $712,800 - will go to schools. Money left over will support the operations of Gastineau Humane Society, training building inspectors and improving the city's information system.

The humane society, which originally asked for $46,000, will get $23,000. The animal control agency will increase its citation and licensing fees to make up the discrepancy.

Training for building inspectors, which will cost the city $3,300, is crucial. The insurance rating bureau bases its ratings partly on the percentage of budget devoted to training, which would impact on homeowners' insurance rate.

The Finance Committee unanimously decided to keep $48,000 for the city's information system management. A reduction in computer specialists will increase the city's potential for computer viruses and cause a delay in services.

With his strong support, City Manager Rod Swope was able to secure $120,000 for Eaglecrest Ski Area, which has been running in the red since its inception 26 years ago. "It's in a really dire situation but I think it is a tremendous asset to the community," Swope said. The $120,000 will come out of the sales tax reserve.

The Finance Committee also decided not to use the Marine Passenger Fee to build a boarding system for people with disabilities and improve the lightering dock. Instead, the committee will use the money to keep 30-minute bus services during the summer, construct a one-mile boardwalk from the ferry dock to Douglas Bridge and help Collaboration Juneau mitigate the impact of tourism on the city.

The public will have an opportunity to give their input about the budget proposal at the Finance Committee's meeting on June 9 at 5 p.m. at the Assembly Chamber. The Assembly will approve the budget at its June 14 meeting, one day before the June 15 deadline.

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