City government and the chamber of commerce must form a partnership for the well-being of the community, Kenai Mayor John Williams and city council member Duane Bannock told the Kenai Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
"It is time for us to pull together for a good partnership for the future," Williams said, supporting Bannock's proposal of a partnership between the entities.
Bannock introduced the idea to a full room during the weekly chamber luncheon at Paradisos restaurant Wednesday. He commended area businesses for increasing taxable sales 7 percent in the last year and suggested that community members take an active role in determining how those funds are spent.
He called for chamber members to be informed, get involved and work together with city government for the benefit of the community. Among his suggestions was more active participation in the reworking of the city comprehensive plan and budget work sessions. In exchange, he promised to ask the city council to permanently add the chamber to the council agenda, giving it an active voice in the government.
"Why would the city and the chamber not want to channel their collective powers together?" Bannock asked.
Williams took the idea a step further, insisting that partnership was integral to the well-being of the community.
"We're heading into very, very strenuous times," Williams said. "In some cases, wicked things are about to occur."
Citing the extreme budget-cutting philosophies of Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, Williams said, "The Legislature is on a hell-bent path for destruction with that philosophy."
He countered that government is an integral part of the economy on the peninsula and that the services government has come to provide are necessary and worth the costs.
"You cannot shut down government in a place like Alaska," he said. "We are the frontier, and the frontiers of any nation are supported by the base of that nation."
He called for a partnership between the city and council that would work to bring a message to state government.
"The state has to come to grips with balancing the budget in a way that will not destroy the state," he said. "I support Councilman Bannock's desire for a partnership, with the intent of working toward surviving what is about to occur, what is out there."
In other chamber news:
n The chamber board issued a letter of support for a grant to the Kenai Watershed Forum for continued water monitoring.
n Unocal donated $12,000 to the Kenai and Soldotna chambers to support the annual Community Cleanup May 18. Its employees have also agreed to help.
n Wednesday was the chamber's annual membership drive. All renewing members must fill out forms and pay dues by the end of the month to be listed in the chamber directory.
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