Due to the cost of print advertising and the belief that more people are receiving information electronically, Kenai's mayor on Wednesday suggested the city council look into changing the way it gives notice of public meetings, ordinances and planned local improvements.
Mayor Pat Porter told the council she asked the city finance manager how much Kenai spent on advertising annually and learned the total amount is about $40,000.
"That's a lot of money," she said.
That amount includes notices of city council and Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, public notices of ordinances that change the municipal code and snow removal notices printed in the Peninsula Clarion, according to City Attorney Cary Graves.
Referring to the Internet and blogs, Porter said, with everyone getting their information electronically these days, "maybe it's time we look at doing it differently."
Alaska statutes, however, require "reasonable public notice for all meetings required to be open" be given using general circulation print media or broadcast media.
The mayor's comments came in the wake of a report by City Clerk Carol Freas, who has been looking into the possibility of Kenai joining with the city of Soldotna and the Kenai Peninsula Borough to produce a regular weekly government page ad giving notices of all meetings of the three local government bodies.
Kenai council members previously discussed the joint ad effort because of frequent issues of mutual interest to all three local government entities including hydrocarbon pollution in the Kenai River, listing of the Cook Inlet Beluga whale as an endangered species and equitable funding for schools.
Freas said she had met with Clarion executives and received preliminary estimates of $1,000 a week for each entity for a full-page ad or $500 per week for each entity for a half page.
These are strictly estimates, Freas said, adding that she had not yet shown ad mock-ups to clerks at Soldotna or the borough.
In addition to state statute requirements, various sections of the Kenai Municipal Code also mandate meeting notices be published in a newspaper of general circulation, Graves said.
Although Porter expressed a belief that more people are receiving information electronically, earlier this month she published the first printed City of Kenai Newsletter, which was to be mailed to all city households providing information about city commercial developments, bear problems, dune protection and various permitting requirements.
The four-page, 8 1/2 by 11-inch newsletter is to be mailed to homes twice annually.
The city council did not take any action on Porter's suggestion Wednesday.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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