Ordinance to spend $55 million approved by assembly in Seward

Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2003

Running the Kenai Peninsula Borough in fiscal year 2004 is expected to cost just over $55.6 million, including $31.1 million earmarked for schools.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, meeting in Seward, approved introduction of Ordin-ance 2003-19, the budget ordinance for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The ordinance will get public hearings on May 20 and June 3 during assembly meetings in Soldotna.

School spending proposed in the new budget breaks down this way: just under $24.7 million in cash funding and $6.4 million in in-kind services, including maintenance, utility costs, insurance, an audit and custodial services.

The 2004 spending plan also appropriates money to special revenue funds. Among the heftier appropriations are the $4.45 million going to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Road Service Area, the $4.22 million to pay for solid waste handling, $3.68 million to Central Emergency Service Area, $2.96 million to the Nikiski Fire Service Area, $2.35 million to Central Peninsula General Hospital, $1.47 million to the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area, and the $1.04 million going to South Peninsula Hospital.

Other sections will cover debt payments for borough schools, borough solid waste, the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area and Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area.

Assembly member Chris Moss of Homer said the assembly has just received the raw numbers.

"The real examination will be in the reviews in the scheduled presentations (by the borough administration) at the end of May and beginning of June. There are no substantial increases," he said.

No property tax increase is expected in the boroughwide mill rate, Moss said.

Mayor Dale Bagley has requested a tenth-mill increase in the property tax within the Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area, however. That money would help fund Serenity House and sexual assault response and prevention programs.

"The meeting went pretty smoothly," assembly President Pete Sprague said. "The presentation of the budget took some time, but we needed the background."

Sprague said the budget presentations will proceed all day before the May 20 assembly meeting, followed by an all-day session June 2 and still more budget talks June 3 prior to the assembly committee meetings that will precede that night's regular assembly meeting.

"Of course, the budget numbers are all subject to assembly amendment and approval," he said.

The assembly also passed Resolution 2003-049, formally setting the $31.1 million to be provided from local sources for school operations.

The borough's share represents an increase of $379,863, or 1.2 percent, over the current year despite falling enrollment. Jeff Sinz, borough finance director, said the increase is attributed to an overall increase in property valuations, which caused an upward shift in the financial responsibility for education from the state to the local government.

As expected, the assembly approved Resolution 2003-050 authorizing application for disaster assistance from the state for the 2002 flood and March windstorm damage. According to the borough, the fall flooding required the borough to spend some $1.1 million responding to and repairing flood damage, and about $42,984 doing the same following the March windstorms.

Federal Emergency Manage-ment Agency officials were to meet with borough officials in Soldotna on Wednesday to go over procedures for applying for federal aid and to refine final cost estimates.

Other ordinances introduced and set for future hearings include:

n Ordinance 2002-19-39, appropriating $300,000 in Road Service Area funds for the Edgington Road Improvement Project. A hearing is scheduled for May 20.

n Ordinance 2002-19-40, appropriating a $38,800 U.S. Department of Interior grant to complete a fuel model map for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. A public hearing is set for June 3.

n Ordinance 2003-16, amending the borough code regarding mandatory conditions on all right-of-way permits. A hearing is set for June 6.

In other business, the assembly passed Resolution 2003-056, supporting the Chugach National Forest Seward Ranger District Recreational Development Plan. The plan would modernize and expand existing recreational opportunities on the Kenai Peninsula and could include 251 new campground units, 15 new public-use cabins, 130 miles of new trails, 12 new trail heads and repairing and upgrading existing campgrounds and trails, said Ed Oberts, assistant to Bagley, in a memo to the assembly.

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