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Borough talks fiscal notes, stream protection fallout

Posted: November 2, 2011 - 8:09pm

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Linda Murphy mentioned Tuesday she would seek to implement an idea that hasn’t been utilized since sometime in the 1970s in the borough.

That idea, Murphy said during the assembly comments portion of the assembly’s regular meeting, was attaching fiscal notes to each ordinance that comes before the body whenever possible.

Murphy asked the legal department for help in drafting an ordinance that could be introduced as soon as the assembly’s next meeting on Dec. 6.

If such fiscal notes were included in the future, it would make the assembly and the public “more aware,” making for better legislation, Murphy contends.

Murphy’s idea tailed on discussions of whether or not to consider Resolution 2011-102, which sought to hire a resource planner and a senior clerk typist at the Donald E. Gilman River Center to manage Ordinance 2011-12, which will expand the borough’s anadromous stream habitat protection district to include almost all anadromous streams in the borough, save for the Seward-Bear Creek Flood Service area at the beginning of 2012.

The anadromous streams ordinance was passed in late June and added 2,317 stream miles to the 602 stream miles previously included in the district.

Outgoing Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor David Carey withdrew the resolution before it was introduced.

It’s not that the assembly doesn’t want to hire two new employees, but rather the next mayor — Mike Navarre — should look at the issue, Murphy said.

“They are making an estimate of this is what they are going to need, but perhaps what we need is a period of time to assess really what their needs are,” Murphy said after the meeting. “Do they really need two people? Do they need three people? Could they get by with one person? Because I don’t really think they know.”

Murphy added the assembly was aware when it passed the ordinance that it would require some additional man-hours to implement, but perhaps only one to one-and-a-half positions.

“Now it is two people,” she said. “Yes, we discussed it here, but I am not sure that the public really understood what the cost was going to be. Maybe they did. But, I think people tend to forget, too. That was several months ago and then it comes back to us and people are wondering if we knew it was going to cost this much.”

The assembly also weighed in on another piece of fallout from the anadromous streams issue Tuesday by unanimously approving Ordinance 2011-37 introduced by assembly member Bill Smith.

The measure will expand the already existing tax credits and exemptions on 25 of the borough’s streams to all of the streams that became protected in June to cover residents’ cost of improvement projects.

According to the ordinance, a property owner must submit an application for prequalification of the improvement project with the River Center and, if approved, the borough assessor will provide certain tax credits to the landowner.

Soldotna resident and former borough mayor candidate Fred Sturman raised concerns about how the assembly was going to pay for the ordinance.

“I don’t know what the actual cost will be here,” Smith said in response. “But, I am given the impression that it is going to be fairly minimal because the other streams that are now under the habitat protection ordinance really will see a minimal amount of development. It is a matter of fairness and process.”

Smith added the results of a year-end financial report indicated the borough did not deficit spend.

“The fund balance is the same for fiscal 2012 as it was for 2011, so the sky has not fallen,” he said.

Assembly member Brent Johnson also supported the measure and said it’s a good deal for the borough as a whole and residents alike.

“So for a window of time, three or four years, they make out good,” Johnson said of residents receiving the tax break. “But over a long period of time, the borough makes out good because A) the stream is protected, and B) the assessed value goes up and it is assessed for a long period of time.”

Assembly member Gary Knopp said the ordinance simply amounted to “incentive for habitat protection.”

“Without that incentive, there may be no development whatsoever,” he said.

 

In other news, the assembly also:

• Unanimously approved Ordinance 2011-35, which limits the total amount of time an assembly member can serve to eight years before they are forced to take a break in service of 180 days.

• Re-elected assembly members Gary Knopp as assembly president and Charlie Pierce as vice-president. Murphy was runner up for the president position and assembly member Hal Smalley was also nominated.

• Withdrew Ordinance 2011-19-54 from the agenda, which asked for an appropriation of $663,000 to the school revenue capital projects fund for partial repair or replacement of Homer High School’s aging and now closed track. Smith said borough mayor-elect Mike Navarre had ideas about alternative funding methods.

• Certified the results of the 2011 mayoral run-off election. Navarre officially received 5,054 votes to Sturman’s 4,529.

 


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