Mayors to tackle peninsula, revenue sharing issues

Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2006

Borough Mayor John Williams will be in Homer on Friday for a Kenai Peninsula Conference of Mayors’ meeting, where discussion of the prospects for state municipal revenue sharing legislation tops the agenda.

The seven mayors will meet at Homer City Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also expected to attend are Kenai Mayor Pat Porter, Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey, Homer Mayor James Hornaday, Seward Mayor Vanta Shafer, as well as Mayor Philemon Morris, of Kachemak City, and Mayor Richard Wyland, of Seldovia.

Several other subjects round out the mayors’ agenda, including discussion of bottom fish regionalization, anti-amphetamine education initiatives and pandemic flu strategic planning.

Bill Popp, aide to Williams, said the update on municipal revenue sharing also would touch on pending legislation meant to help communities cover their rapidly growing obligations to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS).

Larry Semmens, finance director for the city of Kenai and a member of the Alaska Retirement Management Board that governs the PERS and TRS (Teachers Retirement System), said he would be available to discuss PERS and TRS issues and specifically House Bill 375.

“House Bill 375 moved out of the House Finance Committee today and is heading to the floor,” Semmens said Wednesday. “It provides a method to fund the PERS and TRS for school districts and municipalities. It is intended as a long-term fix.”

Popp said the fish rationalization issue deals with a proposal to reorganize how bottom fish are allocated.

Alan Austerman, special assistant to the governor on fisheries, is expected to address the mayors.

Meeting the challenge of the spread of the illegal drug methamphetamine was a topic discussed in detail at a recent meeting of the regional Tri-Borough Commission. Popp said there is an effort to generate additional state and federal funding for meth education.

“We need to start to deal with this situation as it grows and moves to rural communities,” Popp said.

The possibility of a flu pandemic was the focus of a recent conference in Anchorage. Popp said the mayors hope to start a dialogue among the various peninsula communities with an eye toward coordinating planning for an outbreak in the region.

Conference meetings are hosted by the respective communities on a rotating basis. The meetings are open to the public.

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