Kenai Peninsula Borough employees can now serve in elected positions on service area boards after the borough assembly passed an ordinance amending code Tuesday.
The ordinance called for section one of KPB 4.30.060 to be changed from disallowing all elected officials of the borough to hold any other compensated borough office or job or state or federal elected position to only disallowing borough assembly members for holding any such positions.
Assembly member Sue McClure, who serves on the policies and procedures committee, asked for unanimous consent on the ordinance.
Assembly member Wayne Ogle objected citing that he was concerned the change could lead to politicizing.
While some boards have issues filling seats, Ogle said his Nikiski area boards are very active.
Assembly member Kelly Wolf also opposed the ordinance.
“I’m real nervous about this idea, and I don’t like it,” he said.
Prior to the passage of the ordinance, two general borough government employees serve on boards, which Ogle suggested was a possible error. Colette Thompson, borough attorney, said one serves on the Central Peninsula Hospital service area board and the other serves on the Central Emergency Services area board.
Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said the borough has a policy that states borough employees can’t have other jobs that conflict with their government jobs.
“In this case the people that we’re talking about happen to be employed by the borough, but they’re residents of their community,” he said. “They volunteer at the (Kenai Peninsula) Food Bank, they coach little league, they do all kinds of things.”
He said if people want to serve on service area boards unrelated to their jobs, he can’t see where there would be a problem; it’s just about people wanting to serve their community in a way that is unrelated to their jobs.
“If there is a conflict, they clearly can’t do it,” he said.
Ogle and Wolf cast the votes against the ordinance.
While assembly member Mako Haggerty said he thinks it’s great to elect service area board members, nobody is “stepping up to the plate.” When that happens people have to be appointed to serve.
“We need your help,” Haggerty said, “and I’d be happy to see contested elections on service area boards. I think that’d be a great thing, but we’re having a hard time even filling the seats on service area boards.”
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.