Sokenna: pronounced “so ken na.” The name just rolls off the tongue. The idea it represents is far more important than any name. The merger of the cities of Kenai and Soldotna is an issue whose time has come.
Currently the cities borders are about 3 miles apart. Center to center just 11 miles. A newly merged city could take in both and annex all the areas in between and surrounding.
Both cities are faced with a large PERS debt. Where will the funds come from to pay it?
Sokenna will have one set of city administrators instead of two. One city clerk, one city council and, of course, one city mayor. The savings can be used to pay off PERS as well as keep future tax increases lower.
Will it be easy to merge? No! Can it be done? Yes! Should it be done? Logic dictates yes. The problems that arise will be opportunities to do it better.
For the nay sayers who expect the state to bail out the cities, the state may need bailing out in the near future. A gas pipeline producing more state income is at least 10 years away. Meantime, oil production is declining, thus state revenue will decline. And the struggle between the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq may really hit state income.
Instead of being bailed out by the state, local governments may end up taking on current state functions.
Recent news articles indicate that Shiite Iran is hard pressed to maintain all its commitments. Sunni Saudis are well aware of this. Other articles indicate that the Saudis will flood the market with oil in any Shiite-Sunni civil war in Iraq with the goal of collapsing Iran’s economy and forcing Iran out of supporting Iraq’s Shiites.
A byproduct of the flood, of course, is the collapse of oil prices, thus collapsing the main source of Alaska’s income.
The cities old names will live on with Soldotna High and Kenai Central High. If the voters say no because of whatever reasons, the city leaders can respond to any complaints about increased taxes by pointing out the voters preferred more taxes to merger, so they can just suck it up and pay.
It seems the choice is between common sense and false pride. It will be interesting to see which wins out.
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