Assembly coasts through hospital appropriations, language for ballot

Posted: Thursday, February 05, 2004

It was a relatively easy Tuesday night for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly as they quickly moved through a succession of public hearings on several pending appropriations measures that had long since moved beyond any controversy or question.

Biggest among them was Ordinance 2003-19-33, which appropriated $49.9 million from general obligation bond proceeds to the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area account, meaning the money now is available for the long-anticipated hospital expansion project.

Service area residents voted Oct. 7 to approve Proposition 2, which authorized the sale of general obligation bonds to raise funding necessary for the project. Those bonds were sold in December.

Groundbreaking is expected by June. The project entails building a new 50-bed, two-story wing followed by renovation of the existing structure.

The borough took another step toward construction of a new middle school in Seward when the assembly adopted Ordinance 2003-19-35, authorizing acquisition of 12 acres of land from Carol and Frank Griswold. The ordinance appropriated $346,500 for the purchase.

Voters approved issuing $14.7 million in general obligation bonds to build the new educational facility during the October 2002 municipal election.

The current Seward Middle School does not meet modern fire and safety codes. The ordinance had included a clause calling for its demolition, but the assembly changed that to allow remodeling.

Assembly member Ron Long of Seward said the building might prove useful to other user groups or private enterprise. Leaving it intact might give other interested parties the opportunity to remodel and use the building, which could mean a financial return to the borough.

The assembly also adopted Ordinance 2003-19-36, appropriating $43,000 to cover the expenses of the March 30 by-mail election where voters will decide if taxes should be raised to fund cocurricular activities at borough schools.

The assembly also adopted final language for voter information explaining the ramification of a "yes" or a "no" vote.

The borough expects to mail out more than 38,000 ballots by March 8.

In other business, the assembly:

Passed Ordinance 2003-19-31, appropriating $596,837 from the Division of Emergency Ser-vices to reimburse the borough for costs incurred in responding to flooding in October and November 2002. An earlier ordinance had accepted and appropriated another $584,840, money that came from state and federal emergency management funds.

Adopted Resolution 2004-015, urging state lawmakers to pass a law requiring that fiscal notes accompany any future state legislation or state administrative actions that could affect local taxpayers through economic impacts on school districts and locale governments.

Postponed until Feb. 17 further action on Resolution 2003-094, supporting state House and Senate measures that would permit use of electronic gaming machines.

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