FNSB Planning Commission
Members of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Planning Commission consider whether to grant approval of a project to construct two roundabouts on Chena Hot Springs Road beneath the Steese Highway bridge Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. From left, commissioners Mike Kenna, Toni Abbey, Eric Muehling, John Perreault, Jason McComas-Roe and Chris Guinn. 

The Fairbanks North Star Borough has more than $10 million in leftover funds from the 2018-19 budget and another $105,061.60 in leftover money from a handful of old projects that have been finished or abandoned since 2005, according to two memos from senior borough officials to the assembly.

No one is talking about the $10 million surplus — at least not at public meetings — and the borough’s public information officer said the mayor has made no decision about what should happen with the money. The $105,061.60 is the subject of an ordinance going before the assembly on Thursday.

The budget lapse is an annual occurrence when money that was appropriated but not spent in the previous fiscal year is identified.

The lapse for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019, is higher than usual, according to borough Public Information Officer Lanien Livingston, who wrote in an email that it is “mostly due to unfilled positions.”

The lapse amount, $10,715,995, was shared with the assembly in a Jan. 16 memorandum by Chief Financial Officer Debra R. Brady.

She wrote that $499,625 of the lapse was transferred to the facilities maintenance reserve fund — bringing that balance to $25.9 million — and $37,472 was transferred to the asset replacement reserve fund, raising that balance to $531,212. Both transfers were required under borough code.

Multiple assembly members contacted said they favor putting some or all of the remaining lapse money toward building repairs.

The $105,061.60 is left from five old projects described by borough officials as related to information technology.

On Thursday, the assembly will vote on a proposed transfer of the money to a fund known as the Information Technology Infrastructure Sustainment Reserve.

Digital Services Director Blake Moore described the reallocation as a matter of “housekeeping” in a Jan. 30 memo to the assembly.

The old projects are listed in Ordinance No. 2019-20-1Q, sponsored by the mayor, and include a $30,000 allocation for a disaster recovery plan in 2005. None of the allocation was spent. Livingston did not know why.

“We don’t know what the thinking was back in 2005,” she said in an email.

In 2007, the assembly allocated $125,000 for a computer services consultant and software. The remaining balance from that project is $47,500.

In 2015, the assembly allocated $100,000 to develop a remote site for operations if the borough administrative center could not be occupied. The remaining balance for that project is $25,209.60.

The two other projects were for a $118,900 digital backup system in 2013 and $50,000 for information technology security assessment and training in 2015. Those projects have remaining balances totaling $3,352.

The original appropriating ordinances for two of the projects state that unspent funds are to lapse back into the borough’s general treasury.

The mayor is proposing to put the money into a technology savings account known as the Information Technology Infrastructure Sustainment Reserve. Established in 2016, the reserve pays for equipment, software and consulting “not otherwise specifically appropriated as part of a fiscal year budget,” according to the ordinance.

The technology fund has a current balance of $271,420.36, according to Moore’s memorandum.

The borough has no immediate technology needs, according to Livingston.

“We have projects in progress, which are funded by assembly action. The big one in progress right now is the Tax Billing System. As the name states (Information Technology Infrastructure Sustainment Reserve), it is a reserve account, which prepares for future IT projects,” she wrote in an email.

The future IT projects could involve upgrading or replacing large information systems for taxes, finance, assessing or records management, Livingston said.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.

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