Local boundary commission approves Fairbanks consolidation vote

Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The state Local Boundary Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to put a plan to merge the Fairbanks city and borough governments before voters this summer.

The proposal calls for the elimination of the city and borough governments in favor of a new entity, to be called the municipality of Fairbanks.

The current city of Fairbanks would become a service area of the new municipality. North Pole, whose residents would be allowed to vote on the petition, would remain a separate city.

''We're pleased with the outcome,'' consolidation petition sponsor Don Lowell said. ''We're also, at this point, confident that the voters in the borough are going to support this issue.''

A written decision outlining the basis for the commission's vote will be drafted and adopted by the commission within the next two weeks.

If there is no reconsideration of the commission's vote, the board's decision will be sent to the Division of Elections, which will set an election date with 90 days.

State elections supervisor Shelly Growden in Fairbanks said ballots will be mailed about three weeks before the election date.

Borough Mayor Rhonda Boyles said she was not surprised by the commission's action. And she again expressed her disappointment that the Borough Assembly and Fairbanks City Council rejected a proposal to create a charter commission that would have drafted a consolidation petition.

''I did think the charter commission was a better approach, more inclusive and maybe a bit more thorough,'' she said. ''But that's like crying over spilled milk.''

City Mayor Jim Hayes said the boundary commission's decision was a foregone conclusion.

''We've beaten this thing so much,'' he said. ''I just don't think it's a good plan for the city residents, and I encourage them to vote it down.''

The city administration has opposed consolidation. Hayes and others have argued that city residents would lose control over the city's permanent fund and other funds if the two governments are consolidated.

The borough administration took a neutral stance on the proposal. Borough staffers, however, have said savings under consolidation would be minimal at best.



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