A measure appropriating another $100,000 toward the twin-pronged effort to persuade the Alaska Legislature to fund borough schools adequately is among seven ordinances scheduled for public hearings at Tuesday’s meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.
Earlier this year, the assembly authorized award of a borough contract with a joint venture of two law firms that will prepare and file a lawsuit against the state over past and current inadequate funding for borough schools, while also pursuing a parallel track lobbying state lawmakers to up education appropriations and fix the state’s outdated and inadequate schools funding program. Jermain, Dunnagan and Owens will work on the suit, while Robertson, Monagle and Eastaugh will do the lobbying.
Recent estimates say the state’s schools funding mechanism, the Foundation Formula, and its area cost differential that is meant to account for the higher costs of delivering educational services in rural areas, has shorted the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in excess of $100 million over the past 10 years.
The assembly already has appropriated an initial sum of $90,000 toward the project, but has anticipated more will be needed.
Tuesday, the assembly will hold a public hearing on an ordinance which will add another $100,000 to the lawsuit/lobbying account. The ordinance was introduced at the Feb. 6 meeting.
In a memo accompanying the ordinance at introduction, Mayor John Williams said the administration expected to have more information available for the assembly by the Tuesday meeting that will help members in their deliberations regarding further pursuit of the project.
The assembly also will hold hearings on the following measures that would:
· authorize the lease of borough land in Cooper Landing to Cooper Landing Emergency Services Inc.;
· authorize a negotiated lease of a 1-acre lot in the GO Gas Pad Subdivision to Marathon Oil Company;
· amend borough code to provide that election expenses related to special elections for the benefit of a service area be borne by the service area;
· amend borough code to set the sales tax rate at 3 percent effective July 1. Tuesday will be the first of two public hearings. A second hearing is scheduled for the April 3 meeting;
· authorize a one-year extension of the option to lease Ladd Landing to the investment group pursuing the Chuitna Coal Mine project; and
· appropriate a little over $1.18 million from the general fund to provide supplemental local funding to borough schools.
Hal Spence can be reached at email@example.com.
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