Kenai budget headed to council

The city of Kenai’s draft fiscal year 2014 annual budget will go before city council for adoption during its Wednesday meeting. The budget will be open for public comment and may be amended at the meeting.

 

The city’s proposed 2014 budget is $24,046,200 — $1,299,515 greater than its 2013 budget.

Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank said the 2014 draft budget is different in three major ways from last year’s budget. It proposes raising Vintage Pointe rent, raising water and sewer rates and includes a separate fund for managing the city’s personal use dipnet fishery, he said.

Vintage Pointe rent is planned to increase by $50 per month.

“Absent that rent increase, the citizens of Kenai will have to start subsidizing the facility,” Eubank said.

The $10,410 generated from that increase would cover the center’s long-term maintenance projects, according to Eubank’s memo to the council. In the past, the center has spent $111,000 replacing windows and $54,000 on sprinklers, and the budget projects needing $125,000 to replace its old boiler, according to the memo.

“When you’re running a 30-year-old boiler, you know, you’re looking at a significant amount of money to replace those boilers for the facility,” Eubank said.

Rates for combined water and sewer services are planned to rise $4.08 per month per residential customer, according to the draft budget. A 2011 study conducted by CH2MHill found that the 12 percent water rate and 3 percent sewer rate hikes were needed to fund current operating costs and facility maintenance.

The addition of the Personal Use Fishery Fund will allow the city to manage its fishery more easily, Eubank said. With it they can track fishery financial trends and deposit surplus money back into the fund for fishery-related capital projects, he said, instead of losing it in the general fund.

Parking and camping fees would rise from $15 to $20 during 24-hour parking periods, overnight camping from $20 to $25, dock-side daily parking from $10 to $15 and boat launch parking from $20 to $25, according to Eubank’s memo.

The additional fees would yield about $113,871, according to the memo. The fund proposes increasing dipnet parking, camping and boat launch fees to fund additional fish waste raking and garbage management.

“Management of the personal use fishery has become such a big job,” Eubank said.

Two sources that pull money from the city’s general fund is a projected increase for its employees’ cost of living and less funds in the State’s Community Revenue Sharing Program, Eubank said.

A 2012 Anchorage Consumer Price Index predicts a 2 percent living increase to the city’s employee salary schedule, according to the budget. The impact will subtract $237,501 from the budget’s total funds, according to the document.

The city has also lost money through the Community Revenue Sharing Program. The CRSP — a method for the state to dole city funds — granted the city $623,000 last year, Eubank said. This year it received $433,000.

“So that’s a $190,000 decrease in state municipal assistance,” he said.

The budget, however, projects the city will gain money through collecting property tax on the Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska facility.

The assessed value of the property is about $124 million, according to the document. Factoring the funds into the city’s mill rates, the formula used for calculating property taxes, Eubank said the CINGSA facility would generate $477,000 for the city’s general fund.

“That’s huge. Building the facility there is a huge benefit to the city of Kenai,” he said.

Currently the city is only in debt for about $1.8 million, Eubank said.

In 2010 it borrowed $2 million for library expansions, according to the budget. The city was also authorized to take out $2 million in bonds for its bluff erosion project, but the project is not at the necessary stage yet, he said.

“We basically have very little debt,” he said.

Eubank said the city’s mill rates and its sales taxes remain the same.

 

 

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

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