Carrying with them a list of capital project priorities they hope to see funded, seven members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly are heading to Juneau this week for sit-downs with state lawmakers representing portions of the borough.
They'll also be armed with hope that the stark fiscal realities facing the Legislature won't doom those projects to the capital round file.
"We hope to meet with the delegation to kind of reintroduce ourselves and present our list of priorities," said assembly Presi-dent Pete Sprague of Soldotna.
"We realize there will be very little, if any, money available, but we want to let them know that we do have needs within the borough."
In a little more than 100 pages, the 2004 Legislative Priorities booklet describes projects considered of high importance by the borough, the school district, various service areas, unincorporated communities and cities, as well as those of the Road Service Area.
Sprague declined to specify which projects he would favor over others, opting instead to place them all on even footing at this point.
"We haven't prioritized what is in the list," he said. "We haven't, for example, prioritized a service area item over an education item. We'll sit down the
See ASSEMBLY, page A-7
legislators and we'll answer their questions."
Five state lawmakers represent residents within House Districts 33, 34 and 35, which cover the bulk of borough territory. They are Sens. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, and Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Reps. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, Kelly Wolf, R-Kenai, and Paul Seaton, R-Homer.
But small portions of the borough are in other districts. Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, D-Rampart, and Rep. Carl Morgan, R-Aniak, represent parts of the west side of Cook Inlet around Beluga and Tyonek, while Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage, and Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, include Hope and Sunrise in their districts. Meeting with that many lawmakers requires some concentrated scheduling, Sprague said.
"Generally, we try meeting the entire contingent, but there are actually nine different ones, and it's impossible to coordinate that," he said. "So the various assembly members will meet with their district reps."
Sprague, along with assembly members Betty Glick of Kenai and assembly Vice President Gary Superman of Nikiski will head to Juneau on Sunday. They will attend the Alaska Municipal League meeting set for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Assembly members Ron Long of Seward, Grace Merkes of Sterling, Dan Chay of Kenai and Paul Fischer of Kasilof are scheduled to fly to Juneau on Tuesday.
All seven will spend Wednesday and Thursday meeting with the legislative contingent.
"Nobody will be able to guarantee anything (in Juneau) this early," Long said. "But most of what we are asking for is a redistribution of federal dollars. There might be some available now that the omnibus bill has passed."
Congress passed an $820 billion spending package Thursday, some of which comes to Alaska.
A Wednesday night reception at the Baranof Hotel may provide an opportunity to meet with all nine lawmakers at one time, but Long expects much of the in-depth discussions will occur during the days in individual lawmakers' offices.
Those talks will get down to the basics, he said.
"We're not there to talk about philosophies," he said, "but to tell them how these projects were identified. It's going to be a fast-paced session. There is a lot to deal with in a hurry."
A quick look at the priority list shows the borough is seeking $250,000 for its West Side Recreational Use Development Project, another $2.24 million to continue work on expansion of the Central Peninsula Landfill, $350,000 to develop various safety programs that would guide future development in the Cook Inlet region, and $350,000 for Cook Inlet Salmon Branding project.
A host of projects are outlined in sections devoted to Alaska House districts 33, 34 and 35. Most are aimed at the upkeep of schools and other public facilities. The total requested for all three districts is about $18.8 million.
Another section covers various road projects for which the borough is seeking state funding or federal pass-through dollars.
The section includes statements of borough support for increased funding to the Department of Transportation and Public Facil-ities for year-round maintenance of state maintained roads within the borough, appropriation of state funds to meet matching requirements for all federally funded transportation projects such as the Kenai Spur Highway extension and Spruce Creek Bridge, completion of the borough projects listed on the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) list and addition of certain borough road projects to the STIP.
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