The suggestion by a Wasilla legislator that the Department of Fish and Game offices in Soldotna should be moved to Anchorage has miffed Soldotna lawmakers and the mayor.
"I would like to write a letter to the Legislature asking they do not support moving only the Soldotna Fish and Game office to Anchorage," said Mayor Dave Carey on Wednesday during the Soldotna City Council meeting.
Referring to an article he read in another Alaska daily newspaper, Carey said contrary to what was printed, "financially it would not save the state; it would hurt the state."
According to the article, Senate budget writers say closing commercial and sport fish offices in Soldotna would eliminate an $80,000 annual lease expense.
In a letter included in his mayor's report, Carey said, "... budget writers must not realize that rental space in Anchorage is much more expensive."
"Also, the Legislature authorized and extended the lease on the Soldotna-area building for 10 years when the owner of the building agreed to a 15 percent reduction for the term of the lease," Carey said, adding if the office were to move, the state would pay rent in Anchorage, as well as continuing to pay rent on vacant office space in Soldotna.
In the newspaper article, Senate President Lyda Green is quoted as saying she offered the budget language reflecting "how incredibly serious" the issue of salmon allocation is to people on Cook Inlet's northern reaches.
Carey said she did not recommend moving the Matanuska-Susitna Fish and Game offices to Anchorage.
Soldotna Councilman Peter Micciche said he would prefer a council resolution opposing the move, but Carey said the likelihood of a letter reaching legislators in time for action is greater than the resolution process, which takes several weeks.
A follow-up resolution in support of the mayoral letter would be acceptable.
Micciche then offered a motion to authorize the mayor to send a letter to Juneau, which was approved unanimously.
Councilman Ed Sleater said, "It's not right to uproot the people and their children," referring to the 25 or 30 employees who work in the Soldotna office and their families who would be required to move.
In other business, the council introduced an ordinance approving the Primrose Retirement Community planned unit development agreement. The 68-unit rental complex is planned for West Little Avenue and Fireweed Street, immediately east of the Mountain Rose retirement complex that fronts on West Little and Kobuk Street.
The lone council comment about the project on introduction came from Micciche.
"When you introduce a variance of that size into a neighborhood, a (landscape) buffer is certainly necessary," he said.
A new element being added to Soldotna council meetings work sessions called "Committee of the Whole" meetings will officially begin prior to the March 26 council meeting. The committee meeting is slated for 5:30 p.m. The council meeting follows at 6:30.
Scheduled for discussion at the work session is the Alaska Public Office Commission's newly enacted financial disclosure requirements for public officials.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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