Not a lot of budget buzz: Soldotna fiscal plan draws just two comments

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009

At the first of two public hearings on a proposed $8 million Soldotna city operating budget for the coming fiscal year, only two residents came forward to make comments Wednesday.

The proposed 2009-10 fiscal year city budget includes a General Fund amount of $8,280,934.

A second public hearing is slated for June 10.

"Dave Hutchings just laid off a bunch of guys; people in my building are laying guys off," said Fred Sturman. "It's time for the people ... to cut back. I don't think you guys ... you're gonna have to start cuttin'."

Speaking on behalf of the Soldotna Historical Society, Barbara Jewell thanked the Soldotna City Council and asked for the continued support of the organization. The projected budget calls for $5,000 going to the historical society.

In addition to the General Fund amount, the operating budget contains $1,466,913 for Parks and Recreation, $1,391,198 for the Utility fund and $345,736 for the Shop fund.

Also included are $192,000 in the Equipment fund, $166,307 in the Airport fund, $34,000 in the Trust fund and $5,000 in the street improvements fund.

If approved after the second public hearing, the budget would be effective from July 1 this year through June 30, 2010.

The council awarded a $494,387 contract to G&S Management Services to build a warm storage building at the city's waste water treatment plant.

The 48- by 66-foot building would include a parts room, a tool room, a work bench and an area to park city vehicles. Currently the individual facilities are located in separate buildings around the city.

Public Works Director Steve Bonebrake told the council a Vactor sewer maintenance truck used frequently by the Utility Department is kept at the old city shop across from the Soldotna Municipal Airport. When the truck is needed, two Utility workers drive a pickup truck to the airport site so one can drive the Vactor truck back to the city, Bonebrake said, costing the city in terms of labor hours.

The truck also carries a large volume of water and keeping the truck in the warm storage building would prevent freeze-ups.

The building had been previously approved by the city council, but anticipated Department of Environmental Conservation grant funding was not received by the city.

An ordinance approved Wednesday transfers sufficient funds from the city's Utility Fund to the Utility System capital project fund.

A contract was also awarded to Northwest Playgrounds in an amount not to exceed $75,000 for replacement playground equipment at Farnsworth Park.

An earlier attempt to acquire the equipment and have it installed did not receive any favorable bids so the project was re-bid as an equipment supply contract only. City workers will install the equipment.

The council also approved a $184,920 contract to Endries Company for paving Arbor Street from East Marydale Avenue to the city maintenance shop.

An ordinance approved unanimously by the council allows the city to collect fines for violations of state laws relating to driver's licensing, vehicle insurance requirements and other crimes and infractions governed by state statute, if the motorist is cited by a city police officer.

Because the Soldotna Municipal Code previously only adopted Alaska Administrative Code that regulates traffic and licensing, and not state statutes, if a Soldotna officer cited someone for a license or insurance violation, the fine was paid to the state.

Under the ordinance passed Wednesday, the fines will now be paid to the city instead.

The council heard from Kenai Watershed Forum special projects director Josselyn O'Connor on plans for the upcoming Kenai River Festival at Soldotna Creek Park June 13 and 14.

O'Connor said the forum is expecting between 5,000 and 6,000 people to attend the event over the weekend, and in addition to using an overflow parking lot in front of the Aspen Hotel, the organization will be working with the Central Area Regional Transportation System, CARTS, to provide shuttle service to and from the festival with possible stops at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center and intermediate spots along Kalifornsky Beach Road and the Kenai Spur Highway.

Because of road construction toward the east end of East Redoubt Avenue, O'Connor said the annual 10-mile foot race will be re-routed somewhat. The 5-kilometer walk and run will remain on East Redoubt.

Twenty-five free children's activities are planned for this year's festival, she said.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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