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Borough sorts capital requests

Posted: December 22, 2011 - 9:18am

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is currently examining which projects it would like to propose to state lawmakers for funding through the capital budget process in the coming months.

Borough mayor Mike Navarre said he is working with cities, communities, service areas and the borough assembly to determine which projects the borough should throw its weight behind for funding and just how the borough will rank those items.

Navarre and borough administration released a rough draft of those state funding priorities at the borough's Dec. 6 meeting.

"I would say this is more of a broad compilation that identifies projects all over the borough," he said. "That is called funding priorities, but really it is a list of things we would like to see funded at some point."

Gov. Sean Parnell recently released his proposed $12.1 billion budget, which included $1.8 billion in the capital budget -- about $1 billion less than the current capital budget.

Navarre said borough administration will start to narrow the focus of the overall list with the help of the assembly. Instead of focusing on the "wish list," Navarre said the borough would focus on "what's achievable through the process by communicating with our legislators and then focusing on getting more background and information to support the process."

There are two steps to get a project in the "moving target" budget, Navarre said. If the borough can get its priority items into the budget through the legislature, then it must be able to defend them from the Governor's veto pen.

"So we have to not only make sure we can get them in the budget, but that we have plenty of back up and justification for why they are in there when it goes to the governor," he said.

In late June, Parnell signed the state's 2012 capital budget, which included more than $108 million for projects around the borough. The assembly listed the Homer Solid Waste Transfer Facility as its top priority and was awarded full funding totaling $8.9 million.

Parnell cut the borough's second highest priority -- a natural gas line from Anchor Point to Homer with a price tag of about $10 million. Navarre said that project would be given strong consideration for the borough's top priority list.

"It was last year and I expect it will be again," he said.

However, Navarre said the borough hasn't yet determined what items will make the top priority list. He expects that list to materialize for consideration during the borough's second January meeting.

In addition to individually developed requests from the cities of Kenai, Soldotna, Seward, Homer, Seldovia and Kachemak, some of the more expensive requests submitted by various communities and service areas outlined in the Dec. 6 draft included:

* An equipment maintenance building for the Kenai Peninsula Borough at the Central Peninsula Landfill. The borough would request $1.5 million, which would cover all the cost of the project.

* A multi-use facility for the Bear Creek community. The borough would request $3.9 million. The total cost of the project is estimated at $6.1 million.

* Funding for the Cooper Landing Walkable Community project. The borough would request $600,000 for the $2.9 million project.

* Improvements to Basargin Road in the Fox River area. The borough would request $3.2 million, which would cover all of the cost of the project.

* Improvements to Greer Road in the Fritz Creek area. The borough would request $4 million, which would cover all of the cost of the project.

* Installation of a natural gas pipeline to Funny River. The borough would request $1.1 million, which would cover all the cost of the project.

* A community water system for Lowell Point. The borough would request $3.9 million. The total cost of the project is estimated at $6.8 million.

* A public viewing and beach access park in the Nikiski area. The borough would request $500,000. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1 million.

* Phase one of a new fire and emergency medical services station for Ninilchik Emergency Services. The borough would request $43,000. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.3 million.

Navarre said the borough would also likely seek about $2 million for proactive removal of damaged trees outside of the right of way that might cause power outages during wind storms, such as those that shook the Peninsula in early November. In the long run, Navarre said, the funding would likely outweigh the money spent to clean up future damages.

"We have asked for funds to do that and we will coordinate with (Homer Electric Association) and Chugach (Electric Association), but we are hoping it will reduce power outages from storms in the future," he said.
Parnell proposed $5 million for borough road projects in his preliminary capital budget.

That budget also included:

* $1.8 million for an Alaska Department of Fish and Game Kenai River king salmon sonar assessment program.

* $1.6 million for phase two of the lower Kasilof River drift boat takeout project.

* $1.73 million for the Sterling Highway Safety Corridor road widening.

* $5 million for the Friends of the Jesse Lee Home.

* $2.58 million for North Seward water.

* $1 million for the Seldovia small boat harbor.

* $1.18 million for the Seward small boat harbor.

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

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