The Kenai city council will vote on the 2020 budget when it meets Wednesday. With a general fund of $16.5 million, city manager Paul Ostrander says they’ve tried to keep spending more or less flat or even down slightly wherever they could but health care costs, as always, are anticipated to go up.
“This year, for example, when they initially came to us they said it looks like...you’re going to see a 34 percent increase in your health care costs this year. And that generally is the way the conversation starts and then we continue to negotiate with them until we get it down to a point that we feel is reasonable. However, I’ll tell you, reasonable in the healthcare world is not comparable to reasonable anywhere else in the world. We consider a reasonable health care increase at ten percent and that’s what we budget for every single year.”
The main increase over last year is $500,000 toward capital costs. Ostrander says that will replace state dollars that are no longer coming down from Juneau.
“At this point, we are projecting zero for capital funding. So, we realized that we have to start putting into place a plan where we can start funding this capital from city revenues. So this year, we did provide more capital funding than we have in the past, actually to the tune of $1.4 million we’re spending on capital. But, the focus was on maintaining existing infrastructure. We see that as our primary responsibility is to maintain what we have.”
The council will also vote to set the mill rate for property taxes for next year. That number will remain unchanged at 4.35 mills.