The Soldotna City Council will interview applicants for two seats at its Wednesday meeting.
Four Soldotna residents, Dave Carey, Tom Janz, Linda Murphy and Paul Whitney, have applied for the Seats A and C.
Carey, a former Soldotna and Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, ran for Seat B in this year’s election, and lost by 32 votes to Meggean Bos. As a believer in public service, Carey saw the opening as an opportunity to serve and to participate in the process during the upcoming economic boom with oil and gas development in the area.
He said the economic boom will increase sales taxes and is a good time for the city to provide more services.
“What I see in the next few years, and the city is starting to work on it, is looking at five- to ten-year programs to work on roads, to work on the water and sewer and also the city parks,” Carey said.
In his application, Carey wrote that communication with the public needs to be improved.
Carey said two issues with projects, commercial traffic on Kobuk Street and improvements to Porcupine Court, were brought to the city’s attention, and he thinks communication about the projects could have been improved.
“There’s always a need for better lines of communications, it goes without saying,” he said.
Carey wants to see “strong communication” and public meetings for upcoming projects, particularly with Binkley Street construction.
Paul Whitney also ran in the October election against Keith Baxter for Seat E. He has lived in Soldotna for 24 years is currently serving on the Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission. He’s seeking public office because he believes he can “contribute to the wellbeing of our community and citizens,” according to his application.
He said he stays up-to-date on community happenings and studies issues before making informed decisions.
In his application, he wrote that city is challenged with the task of expanding the economic base of the city. To keep property tax low and increase sales tax, he wrote that the city can encourage new businesses. He also mentioned road and utility improvements and the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex are other challenges the city is facing.
He wrote that his flexible schedule allows him to be available.
“I would like to be involved in the decision process of our city to make it even a better place to live and bring up children,” Whitney wrote.
Former Borough Assembly President Linda Murphy lost her assembly re-election race in early October. She decided to apply for council because she thinks she will be an asset to the council with her previous public service experience on the assembly as well as her time as borough clerk.
On her application, Murphy listed rising health care costs for city employees as a challenge facing Soldotna. She said Borough Mayor Mike Navarre is exploring partnership options with medical providers to reduce health care costs and the city needs to be considering possibilities as well.
Another financial challenge for the city is the reduction in federal and state grants due to the rising deficit, Murphy said. As less money at the federal and state levels comes into the city, a balance between locally generated revenues and less income from the state and federal governments needs to be established so the city can continue to provide services, she said.
A third challenge Murphy said the city is facing is keeping taxes low while addressing the rising health care costs for city employees and the reduction in grant funds.
She said applying for council is a way for her to contribute to the community.
“I just want to continue my public service role, and to continue to see the City of Soldotna prosper,” she said.
Although he’s never served on the city council before, Tom Janz has previously worked with council members and mayors on projects and has served on multiple committees including the Central Peninsula Hospital Board, the Chamber of Commerce and the Soldotna Rotary Club.
He retired from the Peninsula Clarion in August and said he now has the time to serve.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Janz said.
He said the aging population and increased number of people moving to Soldotna is an issue the city needs to create a plan to address.
The existing streets need to be maintained, he said, and the direction the city is heading with its parks needs to be discussed.
The third challenge Janz said Soldotna is facing is the non-profits in Soldotna that bring jobs, but shrink the tax base.
He wants to know if the city has plans to balance the reduced tax base by getting more businesses, annexing outlying areas or increasing taxes.
The selected applicants will be sworn in at the meeting and serve 1-year terms until the October 2014 municipal election.
The seats were vacated by Dale Bagley’s resignation from Seat C and John Czarnezki’s resignation form Seat A. Bagley was elected to serve on the borough assembly. His successor will be immediately selected and seated following interviews, Soldotna City Clerk Shellie Saner said.
Czarnezki accepted a position with the Economic Development and Planning Department. He will serve at the Seat A member through the Wednesday meeting. Following council comments, council will choose an applicant to fill Seat A. Czarnezki will vacate his seat prior to the selection and therefore will not vote on his successor.
The council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Soldotna City Hall. It will be preceded by newly elected council members taking their oaths of office at 5:45 p.m.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at email@example.com.