A state capital budget bill worth $1.2 billion is heading to the Alaska House after being approved by the Alaska Senate Friday, and it includes a nice chunk of change for the Kenai Peninsula.
The fiscal year 2003 capital spending plan embodied in Senate Bill 247 includes more than $26.3 million for Alaska House districts representing the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Statewide, the bill would spend nearly $24.2 million more than proposed by Gov. Tony Knowles, including $815,000 more for the peninsula.
Annalee McConnell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said federal money that may have become available since the governor assembled his budget in December and funds sprinkled about legislative districts by lawmakers that were not in the governor's budget probably account for the difference.
McConnell said she expects the House to make some additions but doesn't expect anything in the Senate version to be pulled by the House. The capital budget, she said, generally reflects the governor's wishes.
"They accepted most of the governor's project recommendations in most areas," she said.
Projects that didn't make it past the Senate included a Kenai River erosion study, peninsula land purchases by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustees, and closure and site cleanup at a Moose Pass maintenance station. The administration holds out hope for those appropriations and continues to push for adding more schools to a proposed school bond measure, McConnell said.
Sen. Jerry Ward, who represents South Anchorage, Kenai and Nikiski and is vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said Thursday that he expected the Senate to send the capital budget bill to the House without further change.
"Things won't be removed when it goes to the House side," he said. "There may be some things added (there)."
Ward said he had been working closely with Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley and Assembly President Tim Navarre to secure the borough's "need-to-have" items.
The capital budget commonly becomes a hot issue as the legislative session draws to a close.
"Legislators during the final week put a lot of effort into trying to get the projects they want," said Larry Persily, deputy director of the Alaska Department of Revenue. "The capital budget is what dictates what gets built in communities for the next year or two. It's important."
Here is a brief look at how the proposed capital budget stacks up for communities within House Districts 7, 8 and 9.
City of Soldotna
If Senate Bill 247 passes in its current form, the city of Soldotna would receive a $250,000 municipal grant for its East Redoubt Road project. Another grant would provide $150,000 for analysis and design of the Soldotna Funny River Road water and sewer project, and a third would grant $1.4 million for the actual extension of those water and sewer mains.
Under the municipal matching grant program, Soldotna could get $100,543 for Soldotna Sports Center conference area improvements. An Alaska Department of Transportation appropriation of $3.3 million would directly benefit Soldotna with the reconstruction of the Kenai River Bridge.
City of Kenai
The city of Kenai's new well house and water main tie-ins are in the budget for $700,000, as is a grant for $142,569 aimed at city street improvements.
City of Seward
Seward could get $75,000 for a police council and another $450,000 to write an airport master plan. Seward also would benefit from a transportation grant to rebuild the Seward Highway and construct a parallel pathway from Seward to Grouse Creek Canyon -- a $10.45 million appropriation. A $396,600 appropriation could cover the costs of a waterline extension project, and a matching grant of $74,540 will help upgrade the city's communications system.
City of Homer
At the borough's southern end, the city of Homer could end up with $50,000 for a broom truck, $150,000 to buy new fire packs for the fire department, $1.57 million for a one million-gallon water storage tank, $200,000 from the Alaska Department of Transportation for a wayside park at the end of the Homer Spit, as well as a municipal capital matching grant of $101,597 for the Homer Public Library.
Additionally, the Kachemak Homer Hockey Association could get $25,000 through the city for the first phase of a project to build a hockey rink.
City of Seldovia
The city of Seldovia could receive $50,000 for a backup generator and $35,000 for a new police vehicle. An Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation grant of $93,5000 would pay for a water and sewer feasibility study. The municipal matching grant program could provide Seldovia with $25,000 for roof repairs to its community center.
Unincorporated communities and service areas
The capital spending plan includes appropriations for the borough's unincorporated communities and for the various service areas.
For instance, Anchor Point could see $30,000 go to the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area for new emergency response equipment, and another $100,000 for a service area rescue vehicle. Meanwhile, Anchor Point Senior Citizens Inc. is set to receive $120,000 for a building that will house donated clothing, bedding and other articles that the organization provides to the needy free of charge.
The state's Village Safe Water program would provide a grant of $425,000, the bulk of it federal dollars, for expansion of the Anchor Point Water System.
Nanwalek may see $100,000 for a waste-water design project, Nikolaevsk $100,000 for a water and sewer feasibility study, Port Graham a $105,600 grant for an airport master plan, and the Bear Creek Fire Service Area could get $125,000 for a new rescue/pumper truck.
Funny River and Moose Pass volunteer fire departments each are in line for $25,000 grants for equipment, while the Nikiski Fire Service Area may collect $250,000 for an emergency access route.
The Nikiski Senior Service Area is down for $100,000 for a building expansion project, and Ninilchik Senior Citizens Inc. could get $10,000 for an emergency generator.
Other projects important to peninsula communities also are listed in the proposed capital budget.
A $400,000 grant is included for the Nikiski Community Center through the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area, $1 million is set aside for the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve facility construction, and a $75,000 line-item would pay for a traffic study requested by the North Peninsula Community Council.
The Kachemak Emergency Service Area could get a $160,000 grant through the city of Kachemak City for a new fire engine.
Kenai Peninsula Borough
Several grants are budgeted for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, including $45,000 needed to promote the peninsula as a site for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games, $325,000 for the Edgington Road project, and $497,495 for peninsula road improvements.
Direct funding to projects
Grants to specific projects through various state departments also could make life better on the peninsula.
The transportation department is in line for $500,000 for the Kenai River Trail project. The Alaska wing of the Civil Air Patrol is seeking a $30,000 grant, Cook Inlet Salmon Brand Inc. could receive a $93,000 grant, and the Kenai-Soldotna Women's Resource and Crisis Center an $8,000 grant.
Finally, $1.86 million in Alaska Housing Finance Corporation bonds could pay for renovation of the Glacier View senior housing complex in Seward.
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