The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly voted tonight for a $1,598,798 increase to education funding over last year. The Assembly approved the budget in a single night of deliberation even with more than 1.5 hours of public testimony on education.
The adopted areawide mill rate is 10.332. Mayor Vern Halter still has the option to veto the budget until May 16, and he mentioned that one item has his attention.
Among the changes to the 2018 budget, two positions for the Emergency Services Department were added for a recruitment program coordinator and an administrative assistant for fleet maintenance. Animal Care adds a deputy animal care officer. By reducing winter trail grooming, the Mat-Su Ski Club is funded a $50,000 grant to match their significant funding for the expansion into expert Nordic trails at Government Peak Recreation Area.
Tourism infrastructure projects are slated to receive what was winter grooming funds, including:
• Jim Creek Phase II—$100,000
• Replacement restrooms—$50,000
• Alcantra Field Repair #3—$40,000
• Point MacKenzie Park $30,000.
The Borough Manager had proposed flat education funding for this year and had also reduced the Borough budget by $9 million. The Assembly Chambers were packed tonight with education supporters. Several gave moving testimony on the value of ROTC, paraprofessional educators, the Middle College, sports, and more.
With the $1.59 million increase in local funding for education, the school funding is now at $57,440,098.
Last year the Assembly increased the school funding 6 percent. The School District requested 6 percent again this year. The approved increase for 2018 is just under a 3 percent increase in school funding.
Photo by Stefan Hinman/Mat-Su Borough