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Soldotna candidates look to city's future

Posted: September 28, 2011 - 9:19am

The candidates running for public office in Soldotna are focused on the future of the city. During the City Council and Mayoral forum at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday, the candidates were on the same page about actions in the present can lead to a better community for the future.

“I think we’re living in a really exciting time in Soldotna,” Mayor Peter Micciche said. “We’ve got a lot to do in order to guarantee generations of a quality sustainable community here in Soldotna.”

Since Micciche was elected mayor, the property tax rate in Soldotna has decreased by 30 percent, and the cost of operating Soldotna has decreased as well, Micciche said. Moving forward, he said it is important that the city acts on the Envision Soldotna 2030 plan.

“We’re in the process of prioritizing objectives for our comprehensive plan,” he said. “So it doesn’t become just another plan gathering dust on the shelf.”

One of Micciche’s goals is to do away with property tax in Soldotna.

“We’d be a primarily sales tax-supported community,” he said. “Shifting your property tax burden more to your sales tax revenue shifts your tax burden to people from somewhere else. Not all the time, but it’s just more of a proportion that way.”

Soldotna City Council member Brenda Hartman is running unopposed to retain Seat B. Hartman said her concern for the teenage population is carrying over from her last term.

“I feel like we need a teen center here,” she said. “If we can give them an opportunity to have a safe place, and not get kicked out of because they’re not purchasing enough food or whatever ­— but to have a place just for them.

“That would be just awesome.”

Hartman believes the teenagers of the community should be involved with the comprehensive plan of the city and have a voice of their own.

“There’s no reason why they’re not involved with the (Envision Soldotna 2030 Plan),” she said. “Because we’d love to see them stay here and help us grow.

Pete Sprague is running unopposed for Soldotna City Council Seat F. During the luncheon Tuesday, he said he would like to propose some changes to the council’s agenda.

“I want to add a space for assembly reports to the council,” Sprague said, “which the other cities on the Peninsula have. I think it would help improve communication.”

Sprague would also like to have the city council meetings broadcast on the radio or recorded for the public to be able to follow the meetings at home, he said.

The candidates were asked during the luncheon if they believed Soldotna should remove itself from the Alaska Public Offices Commission reporting requirements. All three were in favor, citing that APOC was too intrusive.

The candidates were also asked if they were in favor of Soldotna becoming a home rule city, which means Soldotna could remove itself from the state code and be responsible for its own sovereign decisions.

Micciche and Hartman said they were in favor of the transition, but Sprague said the pros and cons should be investigated before a decision can be made.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough elections will be held Oct. 4.

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