Assembly to tackle insurance cost hikes

Hospital, salmon branding bills also to be discussed

Posted: Monday, March 10, 2003

Following a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday's meeting in Soldotna, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is expected to appropriate $216,950 to cover an increase in this fiscal year's property insurance premium made necessary by rapidly rising insurance costs.

The move is in response to a negotiated settlement with the Alaska Municipal League-Joint Insurance Association, through which the borough has purchased liability and property insurance. The AML-JIA had incurred significant losses in covering its commitments to the municipalities it helped cover. The proposed ordinance currently calls for a $250,000 appropriation, but borough Finance Director Jeff Sinz said an amendment would be proposed setting the $216,950 figure.

The appropriation will help offset the loss sustained by AML for the year and is at a rate unlikely to be found from other insurers, even for the remainder of fiscal year 2003, Sinz said. He has recommended that the borough seek other coverage for one year to begin July 1, and steps toward that end already are under way.

The assembly also is expected to appropriate $398,800 in Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area funds to pay for remodeling the way hospital spaces are utilized and to buy new office furniture. Among other things, the remodel would include improved patient and visitor areas and make for better use of imaging, laboratory and cardiopulmonary spaces.

The project also would bring the hospital into conformance with requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Finally, the assembly is expected to accept and reappropriate a federal grant totaling $399,659 to the Cook Inlet Salmon Branding Project from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The shuffling of funds wrapped in ordinances 2002-19-33, 2002-19-32, and 2002-19-34, respectively, have been foregone conclusions since their introduction several weeks ago, but they required public hearings before final approval could take place.

Another item on Tuesday's agenda is public hearing on Ordinance 2003-03, a measure establishing the Lowell Point Emergency Service Area and providing for an elected service area board. A teleconference site is to be established at Seward City Hall so service area residents can testify before the assembly.

The Lowell Point area is south of the city of Seward. The Lowell Point Community Council has been working toward providing fire protection for several years, according to borough Mayor Dale Bagley.

"The primary reason for establishing this service are would be to provide fire protection services in the Lowell Point area," Bagley said in a memo to the assembly. "The Lowell Point Volunteer Fire Rescue Department is currently registered with the state fire marshal's office and is starting up operations with plans to be fully operational in May 2003."

The proposed ordinance would adopt the power to provide both fire and emergency medical services within the service area if approved by voters in a special mail-in election scheduled for June. Voters also would approve a mill levy that could not exceed 1.75 mills.

A five-member board would be appointed for one-year terms, after which they would be elected to various length terms to provide for a rotation of seats in future elections.

Public hearings also will be held for:

Ordinance 2003-04, a measure confirming the assessment rolls for the K-B Subdivision Road Improvement Assessment District.

Ordinance 2003-05, a measure amending the borough code to make typed minutes, rather than the current tape recordings, the official record of assembly meetings.

Ordinance 2003-08, authorizing renewal of a sublease and operating agreement between the borough and South Peninsula Hospital Inc.

The assembly also will consider a resolution supporting funding by the state of Alaska for the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, and another supporting passage of House Bill 79 and Senate Bill 62, which would extend the life of the Alaska Regional Economic Assistance Program. The program is a source of funding for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Economic Development District.

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