Soldotna’s city council was all business Wednesday night as they adopted the city’s budget for the coming fiscal year and passed an administrative policy for the Soldotna Community Memorial Park.
The policy lays out the park’s regulations.
Mayor Peter Micciche said much of the document had been pulled together from other cemeteries.
“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” he said.
The document drafted by a city committee sets the hours the park is open for cars to drive in, requires city approval before planting trees, and says that decorations will be removed monthly and people will be fined for damages, among other operational details.
After hearing public testimony from Nancy Eoff, who was part of the cemetery committee, the council amended the language involving decorations.
“I am so excited to be here and have this final document,” Eoff told the council.
Eoff said she had visited other cemeteries on the Kenai Peninsula and thought plastic flowers could make a precious display. She didn’t want to see people get in trouble for such an effort if they couldn’t afford fresh flowers, she said.
As passed, the policy says that plastic flowers are discouraged, but does not disallow them entirely. It also says that the flowers will be removed monthly, so they can’t become permanent fixtures.
Members of the council, including Regina Daniels, said they didn’t like fake flowers but liked having flexibility in the language.
Councilman Kyle Fisher was the only vote against that language change, and said he thought it gave the city more protection by saying the fake flowers weren’t allowed.
“If a problem ever did exist, we would already have something on the books to enforce it,” he said.
Fisher still voted for the ordinance passing the complete policy after the change was passed.
Micciche said the park will open sometime this summer.
The council also unanimously passed a $12 million budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1, and set property tax rates for the same year.
For the first time in recent years, Soldotna voted to lower property taxes to 1.15 mills. The 2011 rate was 1.65 mills.
Micciche said city staff work hard to operate the city efficiently and keep costs low, while still providing a high quality of life.
Councilman Shea Hutchings agreed.
“I think it boils down to a very well led administration from the mayor down,” Hutchings said.
There was little discussion on the budget, as the council had been through it line-by-line at prior work sessions.
In other action, the council:
- Approved a grant from the state to increase enforcement of driving laws related to impaired and intoxicated drivers and seatbelt law violators.
- Postponed setting a public hearing on a special improvement district on Lingonberry Lane until an easement issue can be worked out and the neighbors have had more of a chance to confer on the matter.