Mat-Su Public Hearings Conclude on Borough Budget
MAT-SU— This week, dedicated residents finished testifying before the Assembly of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough on the $418.5 million proposed budget. Deliberations begin on Monday, May 6, which will mark a difficult multi-day stretch for the Assembly as it combs through and shapes the budget into its final adopted form.
The two days of public hearings gave residents an opportunity to be heard on a variety of topics such as funding for the Talkeetna Public Library/Community Resource Center, a 3% budget increase for Mat-Su School District, SART, Youth Court, and the Human Services Community Matching Grant.
On Tuesday, a steady stream of supportors made their way to the front to testify in support of building a new, larger library and community resource center in Talkeetna. Some mentioned that the current library sits on a flood plain and is drastically undersized. Additionally, there is a real safety concern as light fixtures have repeatedly fallen off the damaged ceiling. Many testified to how a new library can help energize and draw a community together, pointing to the recently built Sutton Library as just such an example.
Those who testified on behalf of the Mat-Su School District noted that specific directives, passed down from the Mayor and Assembly one year ago, have been met, justifying a 3% increase from last year in funding to meet growing education needs in the Borough.
Economic development was on the minds of some, pointing out that a little investment here will pay back many times over. "It doesn't cost it pays." One person went as far to say that we need to envision an economic future where we are less dependent on oil revenues and where the future looks far different.
Potential SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) funding was addressed by the CEO of Alaska Family Services, saying that Alaska ranks highest in the Nation for Sexual Assaults, with Wasilla being one of the highest per capita in Alaska. There is currently no local SART team and hasn't been one here in many years.
Thursday night was domininated with testimonies concerning the Human Services Community Matching Grant, with at least 29 people coming forward in support. Many of those speaking benefit directly from these funds as they are directed to various non-profit organizations in the Mat-Su Borough. The director of Meals On Wheels stated that it is important to take care of our seniors and, without this money, it would present some serious challenges to this program.
Photos courtesy of Mat-Su Borough