Kenai council approves technology, fishery-related purchases

Kenai’s city council considered three resolutions at its regular meeting Wednesday.

 

The council agreed to spend money on technology updates and on items needed to manage the annual personal-use fishery, but opted to postpone a decision on the city’s land use table.

The council moved $71,000 to the general fund for fishery-related expenses, and shifted $63,000 for the technology work. Both actions were passed unanimously by the council members present, with councilman Brian Gabriel participating via teleconference and councilman Terry Bookey excused from attending.

In a memo, city manager Rick Koch explained that the fishery-related purchases were the result of extra work done throughout the month of July, when the state of Alaska opens the mouth of the Kenai River for residents to catch red salmon for their personal use. 

The items needed to continue managing the fishery, according to Koch, are a fixed repeater to aid in communication efforts for those on the North Beach of the Kenai River, various traffic control items, a 20-ton trailer for hauling heavy items, and a Polaris Ranger or similar ATV.

The technology purchases are part of what will likely be a multi-year effort to improve the city’s technology. The funding will go to an overhaul of the city’s data backup process, upgrading the phone system, and creating a city data center.

Information Technology Manager Dan Castimore said the current backup plan isn’t appropriate for the city’s needs.

“Our current backup structure is just not acceptable,” he said at the meeting.

The funding will create a data center at the city’s public safety building, and create a process for daily backups. 

The new data center will also pave the way for the phone upgrades. The multi-phase program for the city’s telephone systems will implement a Voice Over Internet Protocol system in several stages. According to a memo from Castimore, the first phase would be conducted with this funding, and would create a plan for how to install such a system. The actual installation would come later.

Finance Director Terry Eubank said the purchases would not increase the city’s bottom line.

“It will not increase total expenditures in the general fund,” Eubank said.

That is due to savings found elsewhere in the budget, largely because of Eubank’s work on keeping Kenai’s insurance costs under the amount budgeted through various credits. 

After hearing public testimony from one person who wanted the ordinance voted down entirely, the council postponed the ordinance changing the city’s land use table until August and asked the planning and zoning commission to look at the table again. That commission had requested the postponement at its last meeting, Mayor Pat Porter told the council.

The council approved reappointing four commission or committee members whose terms expire in January. Jim Beeson will continue to serve on the Parks and Recreation Commission, Jeff Twait will continue to serve on Planing and Zoning, Larry Porter will be a member of the Airport Commission and Lisa Gabriel will be a member of the Beautification Committee.

 

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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