Cemetery not dead yet

Soldotna council won’t share plans, explain why Redoubt site scrapped

Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2006

Amid hushed tones from city officials and council members, the idea of a Soldotna city cemetery appeared anything but dead during the city council meeting Wednesday night.

Earlier this month, the city withdrew a petition to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly seeking conveyance of a 10-acre parcel of land on West Redoubt Avenue for the city cemetery.

The site had been selected by a Soldotna cemetery task force as the most fav-orable location within the city’s boundaries.

City officials have declined to say why they asked the borough to stop considering the Redoubt Avenue site.

Task force members Barbara Jewell and Jim Fassler voiced their disappointment Wednesday over the city’s decision to pull the request from borough consideration.

“I am absolutely mystified why you did not let the West Redoubt property follow the legislative process,” Jewell said.

“We’re left in the dark,” she said.

Mayor Dave Carey responded to Jewell saying, “I ask you to trust us.”

Fassler said he, too, was disappointed in the city’s decision and said, “I hope soon you will be asking the committee to reconvene and consider what you plan in the future.”

Later in the meeting, council member Lisa Parker said, “The cemetery is an issue the council will continue to work on,” adding it might be “a couple of months” before work resumes.

Following her remarks, council member Sharon Moock made a motion that effectively struck the West Redoubt Avenue property exchange from the city’s list of “pending legislation.”

In other business, the council heard from Bill Coghill, of the accounting firm Mikunda, Cottrell and Associates, which recently reviewed Soldotna’s financial books.

Coghill said an audit shows the city with $70 million in assets, $1.2 million in liabilities and net assets of over $69 million.

“That snapshot shows the city is conservatively run and has no debts,” Coghill said.

While he said it would appear the city has “plenty of money to spend,” $51 million of its assets are tied up in infrastructure and $9 million is restricted for capital projects, leaving $9 million to spend.

He described the city’s financial outlook as “extremely healthy.”

The city’s net assets during the year increased by $3.3 million, according to Coghill, who attributed the gain primarily to $2.2 million the city received in grants for sewer and water improvements.

He also said the $6 million the city collected in sales tax for the year was “much more than expected.”

Council members were given copies of a letter from the city of Homer containing a resolution that municipality passed asking the state for revenue sharing assistance.

“I think it’s something we should look at and come up with a position on all the bills before the legislature,” said Parker.

City Manager Tom Boedeker suggested the council schedule a work session to review a number of bills being considered in Juneau.

At Carey’s recommendation, an analysis by the city administration of pending legislation will be put on the next city council meeting agenda for review.

The council also approved awarding a $100 prize to a nonwinner in the Caring for the Kenai competition, to be given to a student whose entry pertains to the city of Soldotna.

Carey reported that he attended the first meeting of Kenai Peninsula mayors, brought together by Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor John Williams with the idea of forming a council of mayors.

“I believe a caucus of council members, assembly members and (city) managers would be preferred,” Carey said.

He said he would not sign up for the council of mayors organization without the concurrence of the city council.

Carey also reported on progress toward a salute to returning Kenai Peninsula Alaska National Guard troops. The celebration will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 4 at the guard armory in Kenai.

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