Kenai Council talks personal use fishery

83 percent of all dipnet fishers report living outside Kenai Peninsula Borough

With the end of the year looming, Kenai Council members set January dates to review its 2013 Dipnet Report and talked about their capital improvement project priorities.

Prior to those meetings, however, council members will hear from the finance department on its Comprehensive Annual Finance Review and were promised a draft version of the dipnet report by early next week.

From a finance perspective, city administration debuted some new accounting of dipnet revenue and expenditures alongside information on who was using the busy personal use fishery at the mouth of the Kenai River.

According to a draft version of the finance department’s portion of the 2013 dipnet summary, the city asked participants to give a mailing zip code.

Nearly 93% of all fee paying participants volunteered the information and the resulting data shows Kenai residents to make up about 5% of the total usage of the fishery with 17% being from zip codes in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Also new this year, was a separate accounting of dipnet money raised through city fees and how each department spent money to handle the personal use fishery.

Finance director Terry Eubank said he was the primary driver behind the move to separate dipnet money from the city’s general fund as accounting for expenditures had been difficult at the end of the year.

Having a new personal use fishery fund code meant department heads did not have to remember which equipment they bought to support the fishery after the season, Eubank said.

The city council adopted a budget projecting $483,152 in revenue and expenditures for the FY2014 Personal Use Fishery Fund, however an additional $233,000 was appropriated by the state for capital projects improvements.

Actual revenue was closer to $440,000 — or about $43,000 less than projected — and expenditures are projected to leave about $1200 in the fund.

Several improvements to the fishery were made using capital projects funds including the purchase of a new tractor and rake, an ATV, and Meeks Trail Repair.

Another primarily state-funded expenditure was a $46,000 installation of permanent power at the Dunes Road, Old Cannery Road and North Beach shacks to accompany a new point of sale system which — among other things — accepts credit cards and also emails Kenai Dispatch for a cash pick-up when the cash level in the fee shack reaches preset limits, according to the draft report.

The city also installed phones at each of the shacks and video cameras to provide the Kenai Police Department views of traffic at the City Dock and North Beach, according to the report.

The city council set a meeting on Jan. 6 at 6p.m. to go over the report.

During his city manager’s report, Rick Koch said he had been meeting with people from the state government — including the governor’s chief of staff— to discuss capital issues.

“It’s an election year,” Koch said. “They tend to fluff up capital budgets in election years.”

But, while the city may see funding for the upcoming fiscal year, Koch said it did not look as though capital project money was going to be high on the legislature’s priority list in the coming years.

“I think the following year it’s going to be a bit of a free fall,” he said.

One of the city’s requests is for the legislature to re-appropriate funding for bluff erosion mitigation in the city,” Koch said.

“We have three years of state appropriations for bluff erosion, totalling $4 million,” he said.

However, this year is the first year that money appropriated toward erosion mitigation will hit its five-year limit. Koch said the city administration would stay on top of re-appropriation requests to make sure the city was still able to spend the money once a bluff erosion project was ready to move forward.

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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