It does not matter where the money comes from, said Bill Dunn, roads director for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
But the borough Road Service Area -- which maintains 630 miles of roads outside the incorporated cities -- already has exceeded its winter plowing budget. It needs more money to get through the winter.
Dunn planned to ask the service area board Tuesday night to request a supplemental appropriation of $400,000 from service area savings. If the board agrees, that request will go to the borough assembly.
Meanwhile, Kasilof assembly member Paul Fischer has proposed an ordinance to transfer $400,000 in federal payments in lieu of property taxes, known as PILT, to the service area maintenance fund. PILT is money the U.S. government pays the borough in lieu of the potential revenue the borough loses on tax-exempt property.
In a memo to the assembly, Fischer said the PILT money would not replace Borough Mayor Dale Bagley's proposal to raise the Road Service Area property tax by .5 mills and cut the general fund property tax by the same amount.
"It is also my intention that this type of supplemental appropriation continue on an annual basis much the same as the assembly appropriates funds for the Economic Development District Inc., the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, and will do for dog control," he wrote.
Fischer plans to introduce the bill during the assembly's Feb. 15 meeting, with a public hearing and assembly vote on Feb. 29.
Dunn said the Road Service Area budgeted $623,000 for winter plowing and maintenance during the fiscal year that ends June 30. With heavy snows peninsulawide, the service area already has spent that money, plus $45,000 more.
"We still have two months of winter ahead of us," Dunn said. "March traditionally can be a heavy snow month."
Each new storm costs an average of $50,000 to $60,000 to clear from borough roads, he said.
This spring, the service area also will need roughly $100,000 to scrape packed snow from thawing roads, and to push the berms back and clear ditches so that melt water can drain.
How much money the borough needs after that depends on how many sink holes and soft spots roads develop during breakup.
Last year, the borough spent $50,000 for breakup repairs, Dunn said.
Bagley said appropriations from the service area fund and PILT could both pass. This fiscal year and last, the service area has survived on savings, spending more than it takes in.
Even without the snow emergency, it planned to withdraw $172,000 from savings this year. With no tax increase and no PILT money, withdrawing the additional $400,000 from the fund would leave an estimated balance of just $64,000 by June 30.
Bagley's proposal to double the service area tax would add $1.2 million per year to service area revenues. The service area board passed a resolution last month supporting the .5-mill increase.
"Even if we do get the $1.2 million, we need to build back (service area) reserves," Bagley said.
Bagley said the PILT money, an estimated $1 million this year, is part of roughly $1.8 million in general fund revenues not bound by restrictions. However, much of the unrestricted money is already committed -- $290,000 to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Economic Develop-ment District, $120,000 to the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, $50,000 to start a foreign trade zone, $100,000 to the borough effort to promote Nikiski as a terminus for a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope, and possibly $100,000 to fund borough animal control.
Sterling assembly member Grace Merkes said she probably will support spending the PILT money this year to preserve Road Service Area savings.
"I don't know that we should reduce their fund balance to $64,000," she said. "That would really be scraping the barrel."
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.