The Sitka Assembly continued to chip away at the city’s budget for next fiscal year at a special meeting on Thursday (3-23-23). The assembly discussed the city’s enterprise fund budgets, with a focus on the city’s capital projects planned for next year and beyond.

City Finance Director Melissa Haley presented an overview the city’s utilities and internal service funds to the assembly, outlining funding plans for major projects and infrastructure repairs. Some of the big ticket items include long-planned rehabbing of the Green Lake Dam, a solid waste compactor that’s being installed at the city’s transfer station this spring, and a new $7.7 million disinfection system the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will soon require for the city’s wastewater plant.

Each utility fund will see rate increases next fiscal year, ranging from a 3% jump in electric rates, to 8.5% for wastewater rates. According to Haley, for an average Sitka household that uses electric heat, all of the rate increases would total around $310 extra dollars a year. 

View Haley’s presentation here

The four assembly members present supported the rate increases as proposed by staff. Deputy Mayor Kevin Mosher explained why he would approve the rate increases, as is.  

“Obviously, there are increases to our enterprises funds. This has been happening every year for the past several years. Just want to give the history: there were not any rate increases for many, many years, and that put us behind on our capital improvement funds,” Mosher said. “We had a huge increase several years ago, but now it’s just trying to maintain inflationary rate increases.”

“I have confidence that this is the best that we can do, under the circumstances, to make sure we have the funds to continue making sure that the things that we need in town are functioning like plumbing, sewage, water, all these things that we rely on for basic services,” Mosher said.

On May 9, the assembly will review the final draft budget for FY24. 

While the assembly didn’t tweak the plans for rate increases, it did make one new recommendation to city staff. At a work session last week, Visit Sitka, an arm of the Sitka Chamber of Commerce that holds the contract for the city’s visitor services, requested a bigger budget for next year– $665,000. But the assembly agreed to keep funding Visit Sitka at the same amount – $525,000.