Spending more on school could help in long run

Posted: Monday, January 20, 2003

Spending another $50,000 for additional architectural services on the proposed Seward Middle School project could save the Kenai Peninsula Borough as much as $1.4 million in the long run, according to borough finance officials who are urging passage of an ordinance appropriating the funds.

The borough assembly took the first step toward appropriating that money Jan. 7 when it voted to introduce Ordinance 2002-19-30. The measure is up for a final public hearing and vote at Tuesday night's meeting. If passed, the money would help qualify the Seward school project for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development 70-percent debt reimbursement list.

In October, borough voters approved replacing the aging Seward school building and approved $14.7 million in general obligation bonds to raise project funds. Those bonds are dependent upon qualification for at least a 60-percent reimbursement from the state.

The $50,000 in borough funds being considered for the project would help qualify the project for reimbursement of up to 70 percent of the cost of the project.

If the project makes the DEED list, the borough would be in line for an extra $1.4 million in reimbursement funds from the state, further reducing borough expenditures on the school construction project, according to Walter Robson of the borough's Capital Projects Division.

In other business, the assembly will consider several resolutions on the consent agenda, including:

Resolution 2003-006, accepting a $38,500 grant from the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Division of Emergency Services for emergency management operations. The grant requires a $38,500 match from the borough, which already is in the budget.

Resolution 2003-007, authorizing acceptance of late-filed senior citizen and disabled veteran property tax-exemption applications.

A separate ordinance, Ordinance 2003-02 set for introduction, would amend the borough code regarding the borough's waiver of an applicant's failure to make a timely application for the tax exemption in any given year.

Currently, late-filers may seek the waiver no matter how long they wait. The amendment would require applicants to seek the waiver within three years of the date an application for the property tax exemption was due.

The purpose of the change is to reduce the workload on staff in retrieving archived records and recalculating historic values and eligible exemptions. The ordinance gets a public hearing Feb. 18.

Resolution 2003-008, providing for a systematic reevaluation of all taxable property within the borough. Shane Horan, director of assessing, said this is not the same thing as the annual reassessment that is required by state law.

The resolution has to do with the frequency with which borough assessors physically inspect properties. Horan said that currently is done on a three-year cycle, a timetable set by resolution back in 1975.

Realistically, he said, current staff and workload require a five- to six-year cycle. The resolution will establish a five-year cycle.

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