City council candidates weigh in on Dillingham's budget ahead of election

Oct 1, 2019

Voters reached out to KDLG about city budget concerns in the 2020 municipal election.

 

Credit Jeremy Hsieh / KTOO

Heading into Dillingham’s general election, we asked you, the voters, what issues you’d like to hear about. One question we got was how the council candidates were planning to address the city’s spending. 

Bill Rodawalt and Kaleb Westfall are both running for council seat B. 

Rodowalt pointed out that the preliminary budget for 2020 was actually balanced. 

They did that by taking certain funds out of planning for projects and putting it into the general fund.

While most of those numbers are projections, Rodawalt said now it’s down to the details.   

 

“One question that I would have if I was on city council is, I’ve noticed in the last few months that Amazon and other online retailers are now collecting sales tax, and I’d like to know whether that was included in their projections," he said.

Rodawalt also pointed to the state’s reduction of 10 - 15% of revenue to cities, which he said would impact Dillingham’s budget as well. 

 

“I always feel like taxation is one of those things that tends to flow downhill,” he said. “I remember back in the ’80s, when there were large tax cuts in the federal level, and the taxes got raised at the state level. And when funding gets reduced at the state, it goes down to the city. You’re still paying the taxes, you’re just paying them to somebody else.” 

When we spoke with Westfall last week, he said he would take a more comprehensive approach to the budget.

 

“I think it would be more of reevaluating where we’re spending our money; how we’re spending our money,” he said. “Look at where the money is going out, what we’re needing and are we spending the money in the right spots? Then we can start to tackle how we’re going to make money in different ways.” 

Chris Napoli is running unopposed for re-election to seat A. Last week, he said the city would have to look at other levels of government to fund projects. 

 

“We need to aggressively pursue the waterfront project once the draft is done by McDowell Group," he said. "The harbor needs new floats estimated at $5.2 million. You’re not gonna pull that out of the general fund. So we’ll need to seek out grants and get some legislative help at the federal level.”

Polls opened at the Dillingham City Hall at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. 

 

Contact the auther at isabelle@kdlg.org 907-842-2200