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Kenai council nixes $20 library card fee for outside city residents

Posted: May 7, 2014 - 10:49pm

The Kenai City Council voted to remove an annual $20 library card fee to non city residents then passed the resolution of fee changes adopted from the fiscal year 2015 budget process.

While talk of revamping the playground at Municipal Park dominated discussion at Wednesday’s city council meeting, the council passed three ordinances and seven resolutions. One of the resolutions authorized the city manger to enter an agreement with the Department of the Army Corp of Engineers to complete one final feasibility study for the Kenai River bluff erosion project, a capital priority of the City of Kenai for more than 20 years.

The library card fee was one of four changes that came out of the budget process. Also in the resolution was a monthly rent increase for units at Vintage Pointe to match market rates, a parking fee increase at Kenai Municipal Airport and an increase in water and sewer rates to keep up with operating costs.

Council member Terry Bookey motioned to remove the library card fee for non-residents and said the library is an essential service that should be free and open to all. Council member Brian Gabriel was the lone vote against the amendment to remove the fee.

From about 11,000 Kenai Community Library users, 65 percent do not live in the city, according to the resolution. The $20 fee would have generated $50,000 per year in revenue and reduce the subsidy for outside city users provided by Kenai property tax payers.

The council passed an ordinance to appropriate $308.66 from a Mountain View Elementary penny drive to the Kenai Animal Shelter, appropriated $25,000 in the airport fund for the replacement of security camera equipment and re-appropriated state grant funds to the senior center improvement capital project fund.

Council approved the city manager to switch city healthcare providers and enter an agreement with Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska effective on July 1.

Mayor Pat Porter said the agreement to proceed with the final feasibility study on the bluff erosion project is a huge hurdle for the city and is excited to see it move forward.

The council also passed resolutions for a lease agreement with Schilling Rentals, airport landing fee and terminal rents, purchase of voice over IP equipment and awarding an agreement for the city hall and senior center boiler replacement.

During his report, city manager Rick Koch asked the council for direction on how to proceed with Municipal Park after the Kenai Parks and Recreation commission passed a resolution in support for a playground upgrade proposal that would include the addition of a 2-5 year-old playground and the replacement of the 5-12 year-old equipment.

After 45 minutes of discussion from council, they all agreed to take a step back from their original plans and gather information from the public through a work session and come up with a solution to complete the park that would benefit all residents.

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