Assembly approves schools money

Residents to kick in about a third of the district's expected $90 million budget

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2002

Educating children in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will cost nearly $90 million next year, more than a third of which will come from local taxes.

Tuesday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved a resolution setting the total amount of money available from local sources for school purposes at $30.7 million. The remainder of the district's 2002-2003 school year budget -- $89.9 million in all -- will come from state and federal dollars.

State law requires that the assembly name its local funding figure within 30 days of receiving the school district budget, which it got from the school board on April 9. The board approved approximately $83.8 million for district operations. Of that amount, some $24.6 million represents local-share funds budgeted by the assembly.

Other costs covered by local-share dollars and budgeted by the assembly as in-kind services include $45.1 million for borough maintenance, $45,500 for utilities, about $880,000 for insurance, $26,000 for audits and almost $71,500 for custodial services. An ordinance appropriating the local-share funds will be adopted by June 15.

In a memo to the assembly, Borough Mayor Dale Bagley said the school budget will rise 1.8 percent -- or $531,484 -- over the current year despite the fact fewer students are expected next year. The cause: rising property values.

"The local share is increasing even though the projected school district enrollment is decreasing because of increases in the borough's taxable assessed property valuations," he said. "In this particular case, the increase in taxable valuations is sufficient to cause a noticeable shift in the financial responsibility for education from the state to the local government."

Later in Tuesday's assembly meeting, members delayed final action on an ordinance revising the boundaries of the nine assembly districts, but they did agree on names for the new districts. Most are obvious, but others generic enough that they may be changed before Ordinance 2002-10 is adopted May 7. Assembly members from each district provided the names. All were approved unanimously.

District 1, Bill Popp's district, currently known as Kenai South, will be named, simply, the Kalifornsky district.

District 2, home of Tim Navarre and currently called Kenai North, will be named the Kenai district with no compass designation.

Gary Superman of District 3, currently called the Nikiski district, attempted to rename it the Nikiski-Salamatof-Tyonek district, but Navarre objected, saying he wanted to avoid lengthy names. Superman acquiesced and agreed the new name would be the same as the old, Nikiski.

District 4, Pete Sprague's district, also will retain its current name, the Soldotna district.

District 5, Grace Merkes' district, is currently called the Sterling district. Unlike Superman, Merkes got her multiple name -- the Sterling-Funny River district.

District 6, Ron Long's district, currently called the Seward district, will become the East Peninsula district.

District 7, which Paul Fischer represents, may have gotten the most generic name -- a name likely to pose some confusion in areas far from the borough seat. Like Superman and Merkes, he wanted to call it by a name that would somehow seem inclusive of all the small communities which make up the district, such as Ninilchik, Clam Gulch and Tustumena. Unable to come up with a combination name or an acronym that did the job, he settled on Central district. Central, however, is a word many residents of outlying areas associate with Kenai and Soldotna. Fischer said he may offer a new name May 7.

District 8, Chris Moss' district, includes Homer, the name it currently uses. That district now includes the recently expanded boundaries of Homer, as well as territory on the west side of Cook Inlet. Moss opted for the current name.

District 9, Milli Martin's district, is called the Diamond Ridge-Seldovia district. Martin got approval for a new name, the South Peninsula district.

In other business, the assembly:

Postponed final action on an ordinance appropriating $60,000 in timber sales receipts for construction of greenhouses at certain borough schools where tree seedlings will be grown for reforestation efforts. A greenhouse at Seward High School already is operational. Others are planned at Skyview High School and Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School.

Adopted an ordinance clarifying the process for appealing Planning Commission decisions and for reconsidering Plat Committee decisions.

Postponed adoption of revisions to the borough's subdivision road construction standards, the subject of months of hearings and committee discussions, until at least early August. The assembly did adopt an updated substitute for Ordinance 2001-47 and set the measure for further hearings scheduled for May 7 and Aug. 6.

Received a request from Homer Electric Association for help in acquiring grant money for clearing dead spruce that pose a threat to the power line supplying electricity to Halibut Cove, Seldovia, Port Graham and Nanwalek. The line runs through Kachemak Bay State Park. The project would remove trees that are actually outside the transmission line right of way but which nevertheless pose a threat to power for those communities should they fall. The cost of clearing is estimated at around $514,000. As yet, the assembly has taken no formal action on the request, which was received Monday.

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