A representative from the Alaska Department of Administration will be in Wrangell next week to give a presentation on the state’s fiscal future.
The State of Alaska is facing a budget deficit of more than $3 billion because of low oil prices. The presentation will cover different options for increasing revenue and cutting expenditures.
“The size of the gap that exists between the revenues that are coming in versus the expenses that are going out is so big that there are going to be some changes made at the state level,” said Wrangell Borough Assembly Member Julie Decker. “And what people can expect to take away is a better understanding of the budget and also what some of the options are, because all of these options that are on the table are going to affect everybody.”
She said communities could be left to fill local budget gaps left by the state.
“What the state does and some of these decisions coming up in the next year or two are going to drastically affect us,” Decker said. “And yes, even at the borough assembly level and the decisions we make in our budget.”
Decker said there could also be a ripple effect on Wrangell’s economy from cuts to ferry sailings and other services.
District 36 Rep. Dan Ortiz will also be at the presentation so Wrangell residents can talk to him about their ideas for the state’s fiscal future.
Ortiz said he wants input from his constituents so he can represent their priorities.
“I think it’s important that they look at some of the different options that we’ll be looking at and educate themselves about those options, and then, hopefully, weigh in with what they’d like to see happen,” Ortiz said.
Revenue options could include a statewide income tax, a statewide sales tax, dipping into permanent fund earnings, adjusting oil tax credits and increasing fees for DMV and Fish and Game transactions.
The presentation on the state’s fiscal future is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Nolan Center.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated that one revenue option being considered is “dipping into the permanent fund.” The wording was changed to reflect that the option being discussed would actually dip into permanent fund earnings, which is the pot of money that provides Alaska residents with annual PFD checks.