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Annexation on council agenda

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Residents in and around Soldotna will have another opportunity Wednesday to voice their opinions regarding the city's petition to annex four parcels of neighboring land into the city.

From what took place at the last public hearing on the subject, during the Jan. 23 Soldotna City Council meeting, opinions are not expected to be favorable.

By way of the Legislative Review Method, the city wants to petition the Alaska Local Boundary Commission to annex 2.17 square miles of land in four parcels described as Areas 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Area 1, referred to as "Funny River Road," includes 305 acres between Funny River Road and the Kenai River from the Sterling Highway to the Soldotna Municipal Airport.

Area 2, the "Kalifornsky Beach Area," encompassing about 317 acres, is south of Kalifornsky Beach Road to Tagala Avenue, from the Alaska State Troopers "E" Detachment Headquarters to Slikok Creek.

Area 3, known as the "Ridgeway Area," includes 276 acres north of Knight Drive to Spruce Avenue and Ridgeway Road from Pioneer Drive to Mackey Lake Road.

Area 4, the "Skyview Area," contains 485 acres from the intersection of Kalifornsky Beach Road and the Sterling Highway up to and including Skyview High School. The area also includes the large tract of Kenai Peninsula Borough land used by the Tsalteshi Trail Association.

From the perspective of the city, according to City Manager Tom Boedeker, one of the reasons for the proposed annexation is "to provide more reasonable and equitable taxes for all who already benefit from city government, infrastructure and services."

Currently the city pays for water that comes out of fire hydrants such as those in the Funny River area, Boedeker said. Central Emergency Services is not charged for the water, meaning those property owners outside city limits, benefit from something paid for by city residents. In addition, those same property owners enjoy the benefits of reduced property insurance premiums because city residents are providing and paying for the water in the hydrants, according to Boedeker. Another example he cited is that non-residents use the city library, which is paid for by city taxpayers.

Besides direct financial responsibility impacts, activities outside the city limits can affect city property. As an example, Boedeker mentioned a gravel pit dug years ago up to the city limit at Knight Drive, which resulted in property along Knight Drive now being unsuitable for development. Opponents of the proposed annexation namely those residing within the areas see annexation as simply asking them to pay city property taxes without getting any services they don't already have.

Also on the city council agenda for Wednesday night is an ordinance appropriating $543,000 to build South Fireweed Street from West Redoubt Avenue to Little Street.

The council also is slated to vote on authorizing a lease agreement with the Kenai Watershed Forum to move into the "white house" in Soldotna Creek Park as its headquarters and education center. The building was deeded over to the city along with Department of Transportation and Public Facilities land once used as a DOT yard along the Sterling Highway.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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