Proposed budget earmarks $1.43 billion for peninsula

Posted: Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Gov. Frank Murkowski's proposed capital budget, which would spend nearly $1.43 billion on various projects around the state, includes funding for much-needed improvements and planning efforts on the Kenai Peninsula.

There is wide disparity between the peninsula's three House districts (33, 34 and 35) insofar as the dollar amounts, but where the total is truly large by comparison — House District 35 — most of the money is either federal grants or the proceeds from bonds. State general fund contributions in all three districts are relatively minimal.

For instance, House District 33, which includes the cities of Kenai and Soldotna, would get no general fund money under the governor's proposal but is slated to receive $298,651 for roof repairs to Kenai Central High School.

According to the budget document, however, the money will be split between the Kenai facility and Homer Middle School, both of which need extensive roofing repairs (about 22,500 square feet total).

The governor's proposed appropriation represents only 70 percent of the $426,644 requested by the Department of Education for the roofing projects.

District 34, covering much of the rural areas of the central and northwest peninsula, is set to get $1,261,600, focused mostly on sewer and water and roadwork. Almost $1.15 million of that is direct from the feds, while $109,200 comes from bonds. Only $6,300 would be derived from the general fund.

Some $12.6 million is earmarked for the lower peninsula's House District 35, which takes in most of Anchor Point, Homer and the south side of Kachemak Bay, as well as Seward. Better than half, or nearly $6.35 million is federal dollars, while $5.73 million would come from bond proceeds. The general fund would chip in $489,700.

The money would cover such things as water and sewer improvements, maintenance at the Alaska Vocational Technical Center in Seward, rehabilitation of Anchor Point campgrounds and maintenance and equipment at Homer Airport.

On an areawide basis, the capital budget also includes $11 million in bonds proceeds dedicated to rehabilitation of Kalifornsky Beach Road, as well as another $700,000 in federal dollars headed to Seldovia for construction of a building to house snow-removal equipment.

District 33 Rep. Kurt Olson said it is too early in the budget process to know what will end up in the final capital budget bill, but he seemed sure the governor's proposed budget wouldn't be the last word.

"We will be seeing more money for 33 and 34 as the process gets further along," he said.

Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Kenai, noted the importance of the K-Beach upgrade money.

"Everything else will be on the auction block, so to speak, because we don't know which direction we are going" with respect to the use of various funds. "We won't pig out, but we're going to get our share," he said.

Efforts to reach Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, for comment were unsuccessful.

A contingent of Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members is in Juneau this week discussing the borough's legislative and capital priorities with the peninsula's legislative delegation. Making the trip to the capital were assembly President Gary Superman of Nikiski and members Betty Glick of Kenai, Milli Martin of Diamond Ridge and Pete Sprague of Soldotna.

Following is a list of the projects the governor's capital budget currently proposes for House Districts 33, 34 and 35. These funds would be funneled through various departmental budgets.

n Department of Education: Roof Upgrades for Kenai Central High School and Homer Middle School — $298,651;

n Department of Environmental Conservation: Nikolaevsk Sanitation Facilities Master Plan update — $25,000;

n DEC: Ninilchik Design Old Village town site piped water and sewer — $436,600;

n DEC: Homer Water Improvements Design Phase 2 — $336,000;

n DEC: Seldovia Design Water and Sewer Improvements $385,800;

n DEC: Nanwalek Sewer Disposal System Improvements — $1,472,700;

n DEC: Voznesenka Design Water and Sewer Improvements Phase 1 — $100,000;

n Department of Labor & Workforce Development: Alaska Vocational Technical Center Deferred Maintenance — $2,500,000;

n DOL&WD: Alaska Vocational Technical Center Welding Program Expansion — $3,000,000;

n Department of Natural Resources: Rehabilitation of Anchor Point Campgrounds for Private Operations — $150,000;

n Department of Transportation and Public Facilities: Sterling Highway, Milepost 135, Ninilchik Intersection Improvements and Illumination — $800,000;

n DOT&PF: Homer, Airport Rescue and Firefighting/Snow Removal Equipment/Flight Service Station Building Replacement — $4,175,000;

n DOT&PF: Nanwalek Airport Master Plan — $450,000;

n DOT&PF: Kalifornsky Beach Road Rehabilitation — $11,000,000; and

n DOT&PF: Seldovia snow-removal equipment building construction — $700,000.

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