This fall, Soldotna residents will decide if their public officials should move to a more localized filing system for disclosing personal finances.
The passage of Soldotna’s Proposition 1 on the municipal election ballot, October 7, would exempt elected and appointed candidates from the Alaska State Public Official Financial Disclosure law.
More than 200 communities statewide have chosen to opt out of the state filing system, City Manager Mark Dixson said.
The number of applicants for local commissions and those looking to involve themselves in the public process has diminished, Dixson said. He attributes this to the availability of financial records.
Currently the Alaska Public Offices Commission requires that all submitted elected and appointed official financial disclosure statements be published online, according to a memo from the city manager.
Dixson said the invasive requirements make it possible for anyone to see, for example, the revenue of a local business owner who is also in office.
“Quite frankly I think it has a chilling effect on people wanting to get involved,” Dixson said “It can have a detrimental effect on those people who do get involved.”
Dixson said the public still has the right to know the financial interests of their commission and council members.
Public access would still be an option, Dixson said. The process would include physically filling out a document at the City Hall to receive them.
Notable changes in the procedure would include raising the minimum disclosure of income or loans from anything more than $1,000 as required by the state, to $5,000, Dixson said.
City Clerk Shellie Saner said $250 would remain the minimum disclosure amount for gifts received by public officials.
The penalty for not filing on time is $10 per day, Saner said.
Before supporting the proposition, Soldonta Mayor Nels Anderson, who works as an obstetrician at the Central Peninsula Hospital, made sure state exemptions on income acquired from reproductive and physcological based professions would remain intact.
Saner said any regulations put in place would uphold existing state-ruled exemptions.
Council member Pete Sprague said he is looking forward to the public discussions over the new proposition.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.