The Sitka Assembly passed a budget for the coming year on first reading last night (5-27-15). But that budget still has a million-dollar hole. The shortfall is significantly larger than expected even a week ago.
The Sitka Assembly voted this week to raise Sitka’s sales tax cap, but they postponed two other proposals -- one to double the tobacco tax, and another to raise the summer sales tax.
After more than a year of warning that Sitka must either raise new revenue or cut services, the City Assembly passed three tax measures in quick succession last night / Tuesday night (4-28-15). The proposals would increase sales taxes and double the tobacco tax. The movement was prompted by the needs of the Sitka School District.
The Sitka School Board Wednesday night (4-22-15) approved a budget for next year with only 3 fewer teachers -- but left open the question of whether or not to keep the Community Schools program.
The Assembly put off a discussion of whether to raise electric rates until a special meeting on April 23. And while assembly members expressed support for finding an additional $1-million for Sitka schools, they couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for any of the specific proposals before them.
The Sitka School Board's budget assumes the city will increase its funding by $1-million this year. Now, the Assembly is considering where that money might come from. Options range from eliminating sales tax exemptions to cutting library hours to putting a tax increase on the October ballot.
During budget testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, residents urged legislators to roll back proposed cuts to K-12 education, the Alaska Marine Highway System, domestic violence prevention, and public broadcasting.
As a host of herring arrived in Sitka Sound last week, another school clamored to be out on water. Nineteen students spent their Spring Break at the Knowledge of Herring Camp - a 5-day program that taught students both the cultural and ecological significance of this critical resource.
The Sitka School District is facing a shortfall of up to $2.7-million for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Mary Wegner laid out a range of options, from ending the community schools program to laying off as many as nine teachers.
The Sitka School District got a major shout-out from President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Sitka Schools Superintendent Mary Wegner was in Washington D.C. for a White House summit on technology and education.