Beetle mitigation, Games help on borough agenda

Posted: Monday, February 20, 2006

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is considering coming to the rescue of Arctic Winter Games with a $500,000 appropriation of borough funds to the Games 2006 Host Society to cover immediate expenses of putting on the Games that start next month.

The issue is one of several measures up for public hearing at the Tuesday meeting of the borough assembly.

The ordinance anticipates reimbursement by the state, but only time and the Legislature will tell if a reimbursement will come. Gov. Frank Murkowski has included $500,000 for the Games in his supplemental budget bill, but there is no guarantee it will remain there when the state bill becomes law. Thus, there is a chance, likely remote, that the borough could find itself on the hook for the money.

Also on the agenda is an ordinance appropriating more than $366,000 to clear spruce bark beetle-killed trees from around utility lines on the south side of Kach-emak Bay.

The ordinance would spend interest money generated by the millions of dollars appropriated for beetle mitigation efforts over several years by the federal government. The current pool of interest funds amounts to just over $1 million.

The money would be used to clear trees from about 3.5 miles of utility corridor between Tutka Bay and Sadie Cove. Power lines through that area deliver electrical energy to Seldovia, Port Graham and English Bay.

Other ordinances up for public hearing include:

· A measure to change the way $625,569 the state appropriated to the borough last year to cover a year’s increase in obligations to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) is handled in the borough’s fiscal year 2006 budget. The change will not impact the bottom line or increase the borough’s budget.

· Appropriating $42,215 in Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area funds to reimburse the hospital for carpet replacement.

· Appropriating $101,614 to the Special Assessment Fund for the Moose Range Subdivision Natural Gas Line Utility Special Assessment District.

· A measure that would revise the borough’s material site code.

· A measure that would change the effective date of certain sales tax provisions passed last year to Jan. 1, 2007.

The borough also will consider a resolution supporting a bill proposed by Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, that would provide municipalities with state aid in the amount of $70 per resident. The resolution also would support a proposed amendment that would increase that $70 by an additional $30 for any municipality that also functions as school district and which provide the maximum financial support to schools allowed by law, such as the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

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