When it comes to budgets, particularly those involving taxpayers' money, there should be no sacred cows. It's only prudent to question every item and consider if it's a wise use of funds in these cash-strapped times.
That's all Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey was doing when he proposed reducing the hours at the borough's Pioneer Avenue office by half. But, much to his credit, when the mayor received more and different information, he changed his mind. His budget proposal now includes funding at the current level of one regular, full-time employee.
Let's hope, however, the worth of the borough office in Homer will never be viewed merely in terms of dollars and cents nor as just a convenience to southern peninsula residents. Yes, the office provides a valuable service by helping to meet the needs and answer the questions of area residents, but it also helps fill a need for the borough as well: keeping in touch with constituents who are removed from the hub of borough activity in Soldotna. Borough officials should not underestimate the value of that service. A local office keeps residents connected to borough government. The office means southern peninsula residents have a friendly face to match with borough government, someone who understands their issues, someone who knows their neighborhood, someone they believe is there to help them.
It's easy enough to feel disenfranchised from government no matter where one lives. The greater the physical distance between the seat of government and the people, the greater the potential to feel like government doesn't care or doesn't know about the issues that really matter to a particular area.
Having a borough office on the southern peninsula also saves taxpayers' time and money by not requiring a drive to Soldotna every time residents of the southern peninsula need to do business with the borough.
Thank you, Mayor Carey, for reconsidering.
-- Homer News, April 22
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