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Service areas need public participation

Posted: August 28, 2014 - 1:49pm  |  Updated: August 29, 2014 - 7:47am

To all central peninsula service area residents:

Does the recently passed $50,000 property tax exemption really save you enough to offset your fire insurance rates or property taxes? Do you know what requirements it takes to enable CES, or other service areas, to acquire the necessary resources to adequately provide service to their area, and how it can affect you? A part of the property tax mill rate for taxpayers in the CES Service Area goes to pay for CES services. Every budget year, CES has been required to absorb increases in general operating expenses to maintain a “status quo” budget. But over the course of the last 10-plus years, the mill rate portion for CES has been reduced from 2.85 to the current 2.65. It is not possible for the high level of service you believe to be available will actually be there in the future. Your input is needed to determine how we should focus our decreasing resources to meet the needs you are expecting.

The recent Funny River Fire should be a wake-up call to review local resources. State and federal resources will not be available for initial response. Volunteers can be the key element in providing initial response, especially in more rural areas. There may be other resources that residents can bring attention to.

I have served on the CES Board many years. Every year we see the growth and the need for increased service. Each month I am very disappointed, as very rarely will any community member attend the Board meetings, to understand or familiarize themselves, or others, on how your Service Area operates. Even though most service area board members are elected from their respective areas, service area boards are advisory only to the borough administration, with no administrative authority or compensation! Many of you in the Funny River and Kasilof areas attended special community meetings to bring these later stations on line, and with overwhelming area wide support, but that is only for certain projects. Do you understand the budgetary process? Are you aware of the protection capability in your area, and does your assembly representative know? We don’t know what is important to you if you don’t speak up!

CES, and most likely, other service area boards would greatly appreciate more community involvement. A Master Plan for CES was developed several years ago by a group of residents, along with a 20-year Operations Plan. The CES Board attempts to update the Master Plan each year, but the board needs your assistance to review and update these plans, and present recommendations to the borough administration and the borough assembly so that our stretched financial resources can cover the level of services you expect.

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