Budget, school funds top assembly agenda in Seward

Posted: Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Running the Kenai Peninsula Borough in fiscal year 2005 could cost $57 million, according to an ordinance scheduled for introduction today at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting in Seward.

About $32.6 million of that represents the local contribution to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District ($25.7 million in funds and $6.95 million in in-kind services). The assembly also will consider Resolution 2004-047, a measure approving a total fiscal year 2005 school budget of $95 million.

Of the $57 million proposed in budget Ordinance 2004-19, $13.5 million would cover general government operations. Smaller appropriations would go to a long list of projects, programs and special revenue funds, including solid waste, capital projects, various service areas and debt service.

A public hearing on the 2005 borough budget is scheduled for May 18.

Seward residents likely are to be focused on Resolution 2004-045 that would authorize award of a contract for construction of the new Seward Middle School to G&S Construction of Soldotna. Of the five bidding firms, G&S presented the low base bid of approximately $9.69 million.

In a memo to the assembly, project manager Kevin Lyon said the work consists of completing site work (currently under way under a different contract approved earlier this year) and building the new 37,490-square-foot school. According to Lyon, work is to be substantially completed by August 2005, but the final completion date is December 2005.

Lyon said he hopes to be able to put children into the school by the beginning of the 2005 school year. In any case, they would be in by December, he said.

"We are hoping for the best and planning for the worst," he said Wednesday.

Ordinance 2003-19-48, also up for introduction, would accept and appropriate a $168,000 grant from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for purchase of decontamination showers and trailers.

According to borough Emergency Management Coordinator David Gibbs, in fiscal year 2003, the borough applied to the State Homeland Security Grant Program for funding for three hazardous-materials decontamination systems. The state provided one decontamination shower and trailer to the borough to be located in the central peninsula.

The money was insufficient to buy the equipment needed to make the unit fully functional, Gibbs told the assembly in an April 22 memo.

The same state grant also provided Seward with enough money to buy components for another system, but not enough to make it operational. No money was provided for a Homer unit.

Following subsequent discussions with the ADEC officials and the State Haz-Mat Response Advisory Board, Gibbs said, the borough has won a new commitment to fund a decontamination shower and trailer ($44,000) for Seward.

In addition, he said, the state is attempting to find funding for another decontamination system for Homer ($78,000), as well as the bulk of unfunded equipment requested by the borough in the 2004 budget ($46,000).

If all the funds were received, all three decontamination systems would be made operational, Gibbs said.

Time is of the essence with the ordinance, Gibbs added.

"The administration is introducing this ordinance now, before a final written commitment has been received, as the funds will have to be spent by June 30, 2004," he said.

A public hearing is scheduled for May 18.

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