The Soldotna City Council decided to move forward on researching how to become a home-rule city.
City manager Mark Dixson said a catalyst for the interest came from the recent Supreme Court decision in Price v. Kenai Peninsula Borough et al., which could lead to a repeal by voter approval of the KPB food-tax that allows Soldotna to collect a year-round tax on non-prepared food items. If the tax is repealed, the city would need to make up $1.2 million in revenue through increased property taxes, Dixson said.
Kenai and Seward are home-rule cities, while Homer, Soldotna and Seldovia are Kenai Peninsula Borough general law cities.
Soldotna needs to be in control of its finances, instead of leaving them subject to the whim of the borough, Dixson said.
Council member Linda Murphy said she was in favor in looking at what it would take for Soldotna to develop and adopt its own charter. She said she worked in Seward, a home-rule city, for over a decade, and it has much more autonomy, than Soldotna.
Homer is proposing to its residents the city become home-ruled on its Regular Election Ballot. And there is talk that Seldovia would follow if Soldotna were to become home-rule, Dixson said.
Council member Pete Sprague said there is a lot of work to do moving forward, but he too was in favor of reviewing how to proceed.
Murphy suggested using other home-rule charters as a model.
“We don’t have to start from scratch here,” Murphy said.
Dixson will present an official proposal to the council at the next public meeting.