Work session focus: revenue and refuse

Council considers their policy approach to open dumping instead of baling

Councilman David Allison and Cordova mayor Clay Koplin during a June city council meeting. Cordova Times file photo

Revenue and refuse issues came under discussion at the Cordova City Council work session Aug. 2, with further discussion on the budget anticipated at an Aug. 29 work session, and refuse problems at the Sept. 6 council meeting.

The council has been working to reduce personnel expenses over a three-year period and get its operating monies back to the 2016 level, “which we thought was an adequate level for our operations,” said City Manager Alan Lanning.

Lanning told councilmembers they’d narrowed the focus down to bringing in possible new revenue streams through increased property and sales taxes, a new motor vehicle fuel tax, and a tax on single sales and rebates for early payments on taxes.

“We’ve already passed the recent millage levy, which was a small increase to 12.35 mils, which raised $60,000. We found out last week that the PILT money came in at $440,000, instead of $420,000, higher than anticipated,” he said.

PILT is the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, which provides payments to local governments that contain certain federally owned lands.

If the council chooses an 8/4 summer-winter sales tax split, and a $7,500 cap for single sales, it would raise a projected $425,000. Add to that the increase in mil rate, and the additional money coming in from the PILT payment, “together would be enough to work with,” he said.

“This is for the general fund only – our operations money. This would be a revenue level we could certainly work with, at $82,000 short of our goal at $620,000, but it would still be a good number, and we can deal with that over time. That’s kind of where we stand,” he told council.

Also up for discussion was what to do about the broken belt at the city’s refuse baling facility, which broke in mid-summer. A long-term plan for the baler and the refuse department is needed, said Mayor Clay Koplin.

Garbage is being currently being hauled out the road to the city’s open pit dump site near Mile 17.

The council is considering their policy approach to open dumping instead of baling, within the constraints of a tight budget and the state and federal regulations that apply to community refuse handling.

“There has also been some discussion about the potential for privatizing baling, which has had mixed success in other communities around the state, particularly larger ones. Some communities are now shipping their refuse out at great expense, so Cordova is fortunate to still have options. Recycling was also discussed, and partnering with other organizations and citizens offers the opportunity to keep it practical,” Koplin said.

 

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at cgibbens-stimson@thecordovatimes.com or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.