Kenai Council hopes residents will tune in on TV

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2007

Described by one to be the perfect way to have openness of government, the Kenai City Council on Wednesday directed the city administration to look into having council meetings shown on cable TV.

Council member Bob Molloy proposed considering delayed broadcasts of regular meetings on GCI cable.

Citing the live broadcast of Seward City Council meetings to that city’s residents, Molloy said GCI informed him Seward “is directly hooked up to GCI’s cable.”

The location of GCI’s cable in Kenai does not permit live broadcasts of its council meetings without installing an expensive underground cable. GCI could, however, provide tape-delayed broadcasts the following day at no charge.

Molloy said he supports openness and transparency of government as much as possible, and said he receives complaints from people saying they don’t hear about matters being considered by the council.

“I’m not convinced anybody wants to see what we do on Wednesday evenings,” said council member Barry Eldridge.

Council member Rick Ross said he had planned to come to Wednesday’s council meeting and oppose the idea.

“I’m not very pretty and I don’t want to go on TV,” Ross said with a laugh.

“Three people called me and said it would be great (to have meetings televised),” he said. “They said it would be a great project for the school.”

The council members discussed having high school students videotape the meetings — providing the students with an opportunity to complete public service assignments — and consider indirectly compensating the school for the service.

The councilors agreed to give the proposal a try, beginning with the school year in the fall.

In other business, the council introduced an $11.7 million general fund budget for the coming year. The budget is slated for a public hearing and action June 6.

The council also approved an ordinance extending the maximum term of leasing property in the airport reserve from 35 years to 55 years.

Unless the city determines a shorter lease term is in the city’s best interest, the length of the lease granted will be based on the amount of investment the applicant proposes.

Speaking in favor of the longer lease term, Joel Caldwell of Arctic-Barnabas Ministries, said his organization is in the process of developing a $1 million-plus building on leased airport land.

“A 55-year lease seems more reasonable,” Caldwell said.

“We have designed an 80-foot-by-80-foot hangar and a two-story office building,” he said.

The development, along Willow Street, is scheduled to begin as soon as the ministries’ lease receives final approval.

“We’re ready to start moving dirt right now,” Caldwell said. “We hope to put up the superstructure by fall or next spring.”

A proposal to appropriate $35,000 to design a urea storage building at the airport attracted the attention of Eldridge.

He said he thought the appropriation was to construct a metal storage building for urea, which is used to melt snow and ice off the airport runway in winter. The price tag on the building, however, is estimated to be in the area of $250,000.

City Manager Rick Koch told Eldridge the design cost would be paid back to the city by the Federal Aviation Administration at a rate of 95 percent, the same rate at which the building cost would be funded by the FAA. An additional 2 1/2 percent of the costs would be paid by the state, Koch said.

The council voted to approved the $35,000 appropriation.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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