Assembly has quick meeting

Exemption, budget ordinances draw little interest in Seward

Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2007

It was a quick meeting Tuesday for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, in Seward for their once-a-year visit.

The agenda included only two ordinances up for public hearings, neither of which was due for a final vote from the members.

While they might have been expected to draw some attention from Seward residents, who had assembly members before them in person, no one rose to testify on them or any other subject on the agenda, according to the borough clerk’s office.

Chairman Ron Long, who represents the Seward area, gaveled the short meeting closed at 8:08 p.m., just over an hour after it began with the traditional Pledge of Allegiance.

The first ordinance up for public testimony was Ordinance 2007-12, a proposed ballot measure that would ask voters on Oct. 2 to approve a cap on the currently unlimited property tax exemption granted to seniors and disabled veterans. If voters say yes, the unlimited cap would give way to a more limited exemption on the first $300,000 of assessed value, meaning exempted residents would begin paying property tax mill rates on any value in excess of that amount. The measure includes a hardship exemption based on income for qualifying residents.

A state-mandated exemption requires municipalities to forgive taxes on the first $150,000 of assessed property value for such residents. A borough law adopted in the 1980s made the exemption unlimited. The cost of that program in terms of lost revenue has grown dramatically since then, and now costs the borough about $5 million a year.

Ordinance 2007-12 gets another hearing on May 15 in Soldotna.

Also up for a public hearing on Tuesday was Ordinance 2007-19, the fiscal year 2008 borough budget document. Two more hearings are scheduled for May 15 and June 5. The proposed spending plan would appropriate nearly $63 million, including $14.7 million for general government operations, and $37.7 million for schools.

In other business, the assembly:P>

· Adopted Resolution 2007-030, authorizing the acceptance of late-filed senior citizen and disabled veteran exemption applications.

· Adopted Resolution 2007-031 supporting the Wildlife Conservation Community Program to help prevent negative bear encounters.

· Withdrew a tax-related protest against renewal of a state liquor license for River Place Investment Corp., which operates the Riverside House in Soldotna.

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