- Associated Press - Monday, August 7, 2017

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - An ordinance is set to be introduced that’s designed to improve the Fairbanks City Council’s fiscal responsibility when approving labor contracts.

Council members David Pruhs and Jerry Cleworth are sponsoring the ordinance, which is scheduled to be introduced Monday.

Pruhs and Cleworth are sponsoring the measure after the council approved the Fairbanks Firefighters Union contract, which they opposed because of the city’s tight budget and lack of funding to pay for it, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/2hC2qqz ).

Cleworth has argued the city may not have had to take a tax increase to the voters if a more fiscally responsible contract had been approved.

Cleworth said Sunday when the code was written to require ordinances to include funding mechanisms, the intent was not for ordinance sponsors to simply say “general fund.”

If the new ordinance passes, the sponsor of a labor contract ordinance would need to provide additional information if the funding source includes any general fund balance or savings.

The council member sponsoring the ordinance would need to identify the amount of money coming from the general fund balance or savings, identify the impact on the unassigned fund balance, and identify the impact on the mayor’s obligation to produce a balanced budget.

However, Cleworth said this ordinance cannot stop the council from deficit spending.

“It makes us stop and think about the consequences of what we are doing and to take a serious look at the financial ramifications of that action,” Cleworth said. “So everyone is going forward knowing all the facts.”

Cleworth said the council has “built in a real problem” for Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly by approving the firefighters contract, because each October Matherly is required to produce a balanced budget. Cleworth said he hopes the ordinance draws the council’s attention to the mayor’s job, too.

This ordinance is only being introduced Monday, and if the council advances it, a public commenting period and vote would occur Aug. 21.

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