Assembly continues Seward flood protection effort

Posted: Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly took action at its meeting last week to help with flood protection efforts near Seward at its Tuesday meeting.

Assemblyman Mako Haggerty said that the ordinance the assembly passed would extend the life of other ordinances that help mitigate flood efforts in the Seward-Bear Creek area.

In a 5-3 vote, it approved the purchase of two plots of lands that are in the Old Mill subdivision/Lost Creek area.

The no votes came from Haggerty, Gary Knopp and Charlie Pierce.

Funding for those purchases comes 75 percent from the federal government, with the remainder of the cost split between the state and borough. Borough Mayor Dave Carey said that four more properties have been selected and will come before the borough at a later date, and 38 families applied for the buyout program.

Carey said that the cost to execute the program includes buying the property, as well as working to restore the area to a natural setting and demolish the structures on it. More than half of the cost to the borough is being footed by that service area, he added.

Carey said that in order to have the federal government take the borough seriously when they ask for disaster assistance, the borough needed to go through with this program.

Assembly member Brent Johnson said he wasn't happy with that.

"I'm going to have to go ahead and support it because I'm being blackmailed."

Haggerty added that he didn't think it was the taxpayer's responsibility to pay for poor choices by homeowners.

But assemblyman Hal Smalley noted that while sometimes the assembly objects to unfunded mandates, this was actually a mostly-funded federal mandate.

And assembly member Sue McClure said it was an innovate way to help address a problem.

"This buyout is an attempt to help correct an existing problem," McClure said.

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