Operating budget on tap

Capital budget up next, $30 million proposed for borough

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

State lawmakers began parsing the details of Gov. Sarah Palin's Fiscal Year 2009 Operating Budget this week with public hearings before the House Finance Committee.

Those hearings are expected to continue through Thursday.

No dates have yet been set for Senate hearings on the FY 2009 Capital Budget, but in play once testimony begins will be nearly $30 m illion in proposed capital projects in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Palin's operating budget, amended since first submitted in December, would spend just over $5.16 billion in general fund dollars next year, plus $1.76 billion in federal funds, and $4.25 billion from a slew of "other funds," such as statutory designated program receipts, Alaska Capital Income Fund (Amerada Hess earnings and other appropriations from the Legislature), the Debt Retirement Fund and Mental Health Trust Authority authorized receipts.

The operating budget includes roughly $403 million in general fund expenditures to capital projects, $449 million in direct deposits to public employee and teacher retirement programs, just over $1 billion for education (dependent on new legislation) and approximately $1.9 billion in savings and investments.

As currently composed, the FY 2009 Capital Budget would spend more than $1.69 billion through the various state agencies on a host of capital projects across the state. The bulk of that spending would be federal funds.

Meanwhile, Palin's capital budget includes several projects on the Kenai Peninsula, including Department of Corrections' spending of $1.2 million for a Spring Creek Correction Center project, and another $85,000 for a project at Wildwood Correctional Center.

The Department of Fish and Game would be the source of $2 million for a boat launch on the lower Kasilof River, some $750,000 of that coming from federal sources.

Another $200,000 would be appropriated through the Department of Natural Resources for a public use study of the Kenai River, while the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has $2 million for various Kenai Peninsula road projects.

Palin's capital budget also includes funds specific to peninsula House districts.

Projects in the budget for House District 33 (Kenai-Soldotna) include:

* Kenai: water transmission main phase II well house, $698,625;

* Soldotna: Funny River phase II, $1,829,177; and

* Soldotna Alaska State Trooper facility work, $199,880.

Projects for House District 35 (Homer-Seward) include:

* Homer water treatment plant upgrade, $1,236,000;

* AVTEC Culinary Building work, $5 million;

* AVTEC Maritime Safety Training Facility, $3.35 million;

* AVTEC Deferred Maintenance, $5,386,000;

* Alaska Marine Highway Terminal, $200,000; and

* Homer East End Road Rehabilitation, $6 million.

Palin's capital budget did not include projects specifically listed under House District 34 (rural Kenai Peninsula), though some of the areawide projects listed above are in that district.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.

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