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Borough Assembly prepares for full plate Tuesday

River Center staffing, Tesoro assessment dispute on agenda

Posted: December 4, 2011 - 11:10pm  |  Updated: December 4, 2011 - 11:14pm

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will pick up Tuesday night where it left off more than a month ago when it considered staffing levels to administer a stream protection ordinance approved during the summer.

At the assembly’s last meeting in early November, former borough mayor David Carey proposed a previous resolution — 2011-102, which sought to hire a resource planner and a senior clerk typist at the Donald E. Gilman River Center to manage the effects of Ordinance 2011-12, also known as the anadromous streams ordinance.

The anadromous streams ordinance 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 assembly passed the ordinance in late June, adding 2,317 stream miles to the 602 stream miles previously included in the protection district.

However, Carey withdrew the resolution seeking to hire the resource planner and typist before it was introduced.

Current borough mayor Mike Navarre is planning to introduce ordinance 2011-19-57, which would appropriate $44,883 in supplemental finding for one new position and other costs at the River Center. If introduced at Tuesday’s meeting, it will be up for a public hearing on Jan. 3, 2012.

Navarre said he wanted to figure out what the permitting work associated with the Ordinance 2011-12 would be before committing to an additional staffing level.

“It was a pretty big expansion and in terms of permitting and things like that if you don’t provide any additional staff it probably means some delays or a slowdown in overall processing of permits and things like that,” he said.

However, Navarre said the borough would like to reassess the staffing levels after going through this budget cycle.

“We don’t want to add staff until it is absolutely needed,” he said.

During the assembly’s last meeting, assembly member Linda Murphy discussed the possibility of attaching fiscal notes to each item appearing before the body whenever possible. She said she wanted to have an ordinance up for consideration at the December meeting.

However, no such ordinance is scheduled to appear before the body Tuesday.

Navarre said he was still discussing the matter with Murphy.

“I just talked with her about the fact that oftentimes (fiscal notes) become an additional justification for positioning by departments that didn’t get what they wanted in the budget process,” he said. “In some cases, depending on philosophies, you can have a fiscal note that’s a large dollar fiscal note because you want to try and kill it because of the cost. Or vice versa — show no impacts even though you know there will be some and then fund it after the fact.”

After all, Navarre said, fiscal impacts should be raised as part of the regular administrative and assembly process, he said.

“So the issue is going to get raised anyways and so should it be considered as a normal course or do you have to go through a formalized process … do we need that additional process?” he said. “I don’t know. We are going to talk about that.”

Ordinance 2011-19-59 is also up for introduction. It seeks to appropriate $100,000 to the borough’s assessing department to hire an outside expert to assess the Tesoro refinery for the 2012 tax year.

Navarre said Tesoro is currently disputing its 2011 assessment and there were problems when the two sides went to the Board of Adjustment for a decision.

“In this case, the value that was determined through this process was significantly less than what the borough and its expert thought it was worth,” Navarre said. “That was as a result of going to the board hearing and not prevailing. In fact, getting hit pretty hard. So our negotiating position right now is kind of weak because there is a value that was established by the board based on the appraisal that was done last year that wasn’t defended adequately enough to support that value.”

According to the ordinance, the assessment of the refinery is very complex and an outside expert is needed to properly assess the valuation of the refinery.

The dispute could be a matter of several millions in borough tax funding, Navarre said.

“There’s no money in assessing’s budget this year to go out and do another appraisal and we have to,” he said. “It boils down to that we can’t leave it where it ended up through the process this year.”

“If we don’t do it we won’t be fairly representing the citizens and the service areas and the residents responsibly,” he added. “We really have to do it to figure out what the real value is.”

 

Brian Smith can be reached at brian.smith@peninsulaclarion.com.

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