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Mat-Su Assembly passes $375.5 million budget, devotes $5.3 million to tax relief

Written by Patty Sullivan Tuesday, 17 May 2011 12:52 boroughsealMAT-SU-Six full-time paramedics, a snowmachine trailhead at Hatcher Pass, a consultant for port development, a lower areawide mill rate and a rebate for Mat-Su taxpayers are part of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough budget of $375,490,644 that passed last night. The School District receives $48,347,365 from the Borough as part of its total budget of $259 million.

Mayor Larry DeVilbiss is expected to issue vetoes by this afternoon, which could change the final numbers. The Assembly has until June 7 to overturn vetoes.

The next fiscal year begins July 1. With a tax rebate, the Assembly lowered the areawide mill rate to 9.361. Last year's mill rate was 9.956. (A mill levy is the number of dollars a taxpayer pays for every $1,000 of assessed value on property.) The non-areawide mill rate will be 0.425 for services such as Borough libraries and Animal Care.

Homeowners will see a tax rebate this year, $151 on the average assessed home of $208,887. The tax relief was made possible by the support for State revenue sharing funds. The Assembly applauds Governor Sean Parnell and the Mat-Su State delegation for their commitment to local communities. The Assembly devoted all $5.3 million to tax relief.

Assemblymembers deliberated in three meetings, considering 50 amendments. Some amendments trimmed training travel expenses by a few thousand, one deleted a $100,000 rescue boat and another actually laid off a project manager at the Borough Landfill. The Mayor and Assembly gave the new Borough Manager John Moosey latitude with reducing operation costs and approved his $1.8 million in new cuts to operations.

Six full-time paramedic positions passed unanimously. Assemblymember Mark Ewing told the public at one hearing that he wanted the emergency responder with the best skills responding to his house if he ever needed one. Assemblymember Cindy Bettine sponsored the amendment.

Emergency Services Director Dennis Brodigan told the Assembly last night the new paramedics will enhance the Borough's effort to deliver the highest level of clinical performance. The new paramedics will serve in the Core Area (Palmer-Wasilla-Meadow Lakes-Big Lake areas), where 75 percent of the calls for emergency service originate.

A consultant for development at Port MacKenzie will help position the port for coming development. The Port MacKenzie Rail project is nearly half funded and expected to generate thousands of jobs and new industries in Alaska.

The Mat-Su Borough School District is receiving its funding request of $48,347,365, the same level as last year.

In the 20-year-old debate over how the library network of five Borough and two City libraries is funded, the Assembly agreed to give city libraries more than their request. Through block grants, Wasilla is to receive $72,089 and Palmer will receive $59,227, while fees will be waived for an automation system. Houston City will receive $25,000, thanks to Assemblymember Warren Keogh amending a motion by Assemblymember Vern Halter.

Mill rates were lowered for some road service areas, fire service areas, and flood control areas in separate amendments by Assemblymembers Cindy Bettine, Vern Halter, Warren Keogh, and Jim Colver. There are 16 RSAs and eight FSAs in the Borough, each with different tax levies.

A new snowmachine trailhead at Hatcher Pass outside the Nordic Ski area is getting a start with $350,000. Assemblymember Colver brought an amendment for $250,000 forward. "I was pleased the Assembly supported developing a new snowmachine trailhead and parking lot for the Hatcher Pass Management Area," Colver said. Assemblymember Ron Arvin spoke via phone, stressing how important it is to support the motorized users in the Hatcher area given the recent support for non-motorized users in the coming Hatcher Pass Nordic Ski Area. Arvin added $100,000 to the passing amendment.

Listen to Manager Moosey hear discuss why adding a consultant for port development is vital.


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