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City council schedules work session to discuss costs for senior housing

Kenai opts not to raise the rent

Posted: September 7, 2012 - 7:32am

Vintage Point Manor resident Joan Kirkham was shocked by the proposed increase to her monthly rent at Wednesday’s Kenai City Council, attended by 14 other residents from the senior housing development. 

“When you live on a fixed income, you have to budget your money as best you can,” she said, “Being hit with $50 is not conceivable to me.”

The $50 monthly rent increases was a resolution proposed in a council meeting a month ago, and the council voted to postpone their decision to further investigate it.

Residents were concerned action would drag on indefinitely, but the council unanimously voted the rent increases down in Wednesday’s meeting.

Although the resolution did not pass, Kenai City Mayor Pat Porter said it will be back.

“We have to come out even,” Porter said. “We can’t continue to lose money on this housing project or it is automatically subsidized, because somebody has to make up the difference.”

Council Member Mike Boyle said he was not interested in seeing the resolution come back at all.

Of the seven members in the audience who spoke against the rent increases, 78-year-old Steve Hillyer, another resident, said raising the development’s rents was self-defeating.

The initial purpose of the development is to keep senior citizens in Kenai, he said, but if the price to live there continues to rise many will be forced to relocate.

“You’re shooting yourself in the foot,” he said.

Kirkham suggested incremental rent increases. 

“It would be so much easier to those of us on a fixed income,” she said.

She also wanted the council to explain the development’s budget because she did not know where money was being allocated.

Another resident, Lynda Smith, said too much was being spent on the infrastructure, according to the city’s 20-year analysis on the development’s costs.

“You have the roof replacement at $200,000,” she said, reading from the analysis. “Now that is the most expensive galvanized roof  you can get that’s going to last 100 years.”

She criticized other expenditures she said were extraneous and asked council to re-examine the budget.

“I have to come up with $600 in one year to cover $50 raises in rent,” she said.

In a 5-3 vote, with council members Boyle, Ryan Marquis and Robert Molloy opposed, the council agreed to schedule a work session to discuss with the public how to resolve the senior housing development’s future rent increases. 

The council also signed the new City Attorney Scott Bloom’s contract at $120,000.

 

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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