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Those members of the public who are interested in the City of Ketchikan’s budget and taxes for the coming year — even non-city residents who, perhaps, pay Ketchikan Public Utilities or harbor bills — have their final chance to comment on the budget tonight at the Ketchikan City Council meeting.
The Council this year, as every year in recent memory, has been diligent in digging into the proposed spending plan over a series of meetings at which issues get hashed out. Everyone wants services, most especially public safety, and no one wants higher taxes. What’s proposed this year is a budget that doesn’t add much and doesn’t subtract much, but does raise the city property tax rate by a half mill (that’s a 20th of a penny on each dollar of assessed valuation). That makes the city tax rate, if the Council passes it, 6.7 mills — a $100 increase for a city house assessed at $200,000. That is not the end of property tax for city residents, who also pay borough property tax of 5 mills. That means a total property tax for a city property would be 11.7 mills. One mill is a dollar tax on each $1,000 of assessed value.
Of course there is more to a budget than numbers; there’s police, street-cleaning, people to collect those taxes and people to fix those electrical wires in the middle of the night when we all want our power turned back on.
The Council is poised to vote on the budget at its final meeting of the year. It begins at 7 p.m. There is time for public comment near the beginning of the meeting, which takes place in Council chambers.
You don’t have to complain to comment on the budget, though you can. If you appreciate the staff and Council’s work these many weeks (and in some cases months), you can tell them that, too. They’d probably appreciate a good word around now. (Wouldn’t we all?)
Citizens can speak at any meeting, and often do. But this will be the last chance to talk effectively about the coming year’s budget. After tonight, barring the unexpected, it will be a done deal.