Now that mild weather has arrived and the summer construction season is getting under way, a number of big projects are on the dais for tonight’s Kenai City Council meeting.
Wal-Mart, the Kenai Municipal Airport runway project and the new boat launch at the city dock are among items slated for discussion. The council also is expected to introduce the city’s $15 million budget for fiscal year 2007.
The budget, which sets the city’s general fund at $10,162,813, is being called a “maintenance budget” by City Manager Rick Koch, who said it contains no new programs.
Included in the general fund are expenses for running the city’s police and fire departments, animal control and the library, and maintaining the city’s parks, streets, buildings and street lighting.
“I’ve never been to a work session that’s been so short and run so smooth,” he said Tuesday, referring to the sole budget work session conducted by council members two weeks ago.
Koch said if Gov. Frank Murkowski signs the state budget bill, as he said he would, earmarking funds for Kenai, the budget will be “$300,000 to the black.”
The city’s proposed budget, which is an increase of $675,452 from last year, is being impacted by the steadily rising cost of the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) and the cost of health care insurance coverage for city employees, according to Koch.
Last year, health care went up 12 percent, Koch said, and the city was anticipating a 10 percent increase this year. “This year, it went up 20 percent,” he said.
The city’s budget will be introduced tonight, it is slated for adoption June 7 and takes effect July 7.
Tom Adams of Lounsbury and Associates, the Anchorage developers representing Wal-Mart, is scheduled to give the city an update on the proposed Wal-Mart super center planned for Kenai.
The 235,000-square-foot combination grocery and general merchandise store is to be built on 37 acres of airport property behind Kenai Chrysler Center.
Wal-Mart’s application to lease the land calls for development to begin this spring and be completed by October 2007.
The council also is expected to hear from Phil Bryson and Casey Madden of Wince-Corthell-Bryson, the firm working on the airport runway project.
In order to comply with Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements, the runway is being lengthened by 250 feet on the north end, leaving 250 feet on the south end to serve as part of the safety zone.
The runway will then be completely repaved. As part of the project, the airport’s float plane basin also will be lengthened 1,000 feet enabling it to accommodate commercial floatplanes such as Twin Otters.
The project also includes replacing the runway’s lighting system, reconfiguring perimeter fencing on the north end and building access roads for emergency response vehicles.
The council is expected to introduce an ordinance transferring money between funds for the boat launch capital project currently under way.
A new ramp is expected to be completed about 10 days prior to the personal use dipnet fishery which runs from July 10 to July 31 on the Kenai River.
Due to work being done on the city hall elevator, the city council will meet at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center this evening. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.
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