Budget hearing planned tonight

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Residents get a chance to bend the ears of Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members today as the assembly holds the first of two scheduled public hearings on the proposed fiscal year 2004 borough budget.

If adopted June 3, following another hearing, the $55.8 million spending plan will go into effect July 1.

Also on the agenda are three versions of Resolution 2003-043, a measure that would put the assembly on record as concerned that certain federal laws and presidential orders issued in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks go too far and are threatening constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.

The meeting also will address Ordinance 2003-11, a measure amending the borough sales tax code to exempt a portion of gasoline and diesel fuels from the sales tax, and Ordinance 2003-19. Appropriating funds for the new fiscal year, it includes $31.1 million earmarked for borough schools. Some $24.7 million of that will be in cash while another $6.4 million will come 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 Services 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 $1.04 million to South Peninsula Hos-pital.

Mayor Dale Bagley and assembly President Pete Sprague said no general property tax mill rate increase is anticipated. However, a tenth-mill increase in the property tax within the Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area is under consideration.

Ordinance 2001-11 would exempt from the borough sales tax a portion of the final retail sale price of taxable gasoline and diesel fuels equal to state and federal excise taxes paid by the retailer. The measure is seen as a form of tax relief for consumers. Assembly member Paul Fischer of Kasilof introduced it April 1.

Other ordinances up for public hearing and final action include:

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

n Ordinance 2003-14, amending borough code regarding the establishment of mill levies for various service areas. It would drop the current language indicating that no mill levy beyond a certain amount (depending upon the service area) could occur without a majority vote of the service area residents. That language is misleading in that only the assembly has the power to raise and lower mill levies.

Several ballot measures creating various service areas over the years have had that language attached, giving the impression a mill levy approved by voters would require voter approval to change. That is not the case. The new language indicates only that no mill levy can occur except during the budgetary process.

The assembly also will consider several ordinances for introduction, including 2002-19-41, a measure accepting a $30,000 grant from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for improvements to the Jacob's Ladder Trail.

The 1,800-foot-long trail is about 4.5 miles from the Captain Cook State Recreation Area and provides access to some 363 borough parcels in the Moose Point and Gray Cliff subdivisions, plus an additional 8,000 acres of borough land in the Point Possession area.

Improvements would include creating a uniform 10-foot-wide gravel trail. The total cost is expected to be around $50,000.

The assembly meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Borough Building in Soldotna.

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