Assembly: Will law come to Nikiski?

Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The first of two public hearings on a proposal to create a Nikiski Law Enforcement Service Area will be held at tonight's meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

Ordinance 2004-10 is one of nine ordinances expected to be the subjects of public testimony. They include proposed appropriation measures for school district computer equipment, funding to cover losses at South Peninsula Hospital, and purchase of new borough decontamination equipment.

Sponsored by assembly member Gary Superman of Nikiski, Ordinance 2004-10 would add a proposition to the Oct. 5 municipal ballot asking voters to decide if the borough should be authorized to exercise law enforcement powers in a Nikiski Law Enforcement Service Area.

A working group within the Nikiski Community Council unanimously voted to proceed toward a new service area after several public meetings in the Nikiski area drew strong expressions of interest in establishing a local police presence, said Superman, assembly vice president, he said.

In an April 13 letter to the assembly, Superman noted a spate of burglaries occurring over the past winter. The crime ring was broken up, but not before many homes had been hit.

"Some of our unincorporated areas of the borough are gaining population faster than our cities," Superman said. "Unfortunately, because of the lack of visible authority, these areas have become fertile ground for crime. Theft and burglary are often coupled with illicit drugs."

According to Superman, the new five-member service area board would have the power to determine and provide the level of services to the community, either by contracting with existing public safety departments or by creating a new law enforcement agency.

A second public hearing is scheduled for June 1.

As yet, no mill rate has been set for funding the proposed service area. According to the borough clerk's office, if voters approve the creation of the service area, its board would consider the possible costs and recommend a mill rate to the assembly, which would set an appropriate mill rate.

The assembly also will consider Ordinance 2003-19-46, which would appropriate $175,000 for the purchase of a new point-of-sale system for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. The system is a combination of software and hardware that records daily participation of students in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. The existing system is no longer eligible for tech support by the manufacturer.

Ordinance 2003-19-47 would appropriate $585,000 from the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area fund balance to cover hospital operating losses.

Ordinance 2003,19-48 would accept and appropriate a $168,000 grant from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to purchase decontamination showers and trailers and associated equipment. The equipment would be used in Homer, Seward and the central peninsula.

Other measures up for public hearing include:

Ordinance 2004-09, which would adopt a revised Comprehensive Plan for the city of Kenai;

Ordinance 2004-11, which would raise the maximum borough match for road improvement assessment district projects from 25 percent to 50 percent.

Ordinance 2004-13, increasing the maximum amount of a sale to which the borough sales tax is applied from $500 to $1,000. A second hearing is scheduled June 1.

Ordinance 2004-19, which would appropriate funds for fiscal year 2005. A second hearing is scheduled June 1.

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