Is borough really open and transparent?

Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009

Did the Kenai Borough Assembly purchase land for the proposed "sports dome" at its April 7 meeting? The main purpose of Ordinance 2008-19-43 was to purchase four acres on Kalifornsky Beach Road (not far from the existing fire stations) for a future Central Emergency Services fire station.

This ordinance also allowed the borough to spend an additional $400,000 of public tax dollars to purchase the remaining 26 acres of this parcel. The four-acre purchase for CES might be legitimate, but the stated use of "Other Government Purposes" for the additional 26 acres is fuzzy at best. Not one assembly member would comment on the real purpose for spending public dollars for this additional 26-acre purchase. Maybe they don't know, but that didn't stop them from spending your money for the land purchase.

Earlier in the same assembly meeting there was a presentation by a supporter of the sport dome who claimed their proposal would be open and transparent. Last year the assembly passed resolution 2008-071 in favor of this project. The assembly clearly supports this $20 million-plus project and have pledged to put a question on the fall ballot without the need for a citizens' initiative or other means to prove that broad based public support even exists. Only time will tell if the 26 acres was purchased for the sport dome and whether this process was really open and transparent.

If you are concerned about being forced to pay for construction of this project, plus the annual operating cost for the rest of your life, you might want to ask your assembly representative some hard questions. The time to get involved is now, not after something is built and you start getting an annual bill for further expansion of borough government that you may not want.

Mike McBride

North Kenai

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