Budget on Kenai agenda

Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Kenai residents will have an opportunity tonight to comment on the city's proposed $18.3 million operating budget for fiscal year 2009.

The Kenai City Council will be considering approval of the $18,299,837 budget, which includes $12,607,129 in the city's general fund. The budget year begins July 1.

City Manager Rick Koch said Kenai's capital budget does not follow the same annual fiscal year as the operating budget, but spending should come in at "between $4 million and $6 million this year depending on how projects move forward."

Also on tonight's city council agenda is a resolution fixing the property tax levy for fiscal year 2009 at 4.5 mills, unchanged from the previous fiscal year.

Koch said the rate of levy is determined by the Kenai Peninsula Borough, but must be fixed by the Kenai council.

The coming year's budget is calculated anticipating property tax revenue based on the 4.5-mills rate.

In order to mitigate a wetlands issue on city property purchased by Wal-Mart for its new store to be built behind Kenai Chrysler, the city purchased a narrow strip of land along a gully that runs along the southern edge of the Wal-Mart tract. Tonight, the council will consider dedicating the gully property for park purposes with a conservation easement that restricts and regulates activities on the land in order to preserve its conservation values.

Koch said the 5.44 acres of land is being used to mitigate the 1.4-acre portion of the Wal-Mart property that had been designated a wetlands by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If the council approves the action tonight, any type of development on the land in the future would need approval of the Corps, according to Koch.

When asked for a progress report on the Wal-Mart construction project, Koch said biologists "are walking the property right now to be sure there are no nesting birds present."

Once given the OK, workers could begin clearing sections of the 38-acre parcel in preparation for building the store. Koch said the company would like to begin clearing by July 15.

Concerning the Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse being built across Marathon Road from the Wal-Mart site, Koch said Lowe's has run all of its underground water and sewer lines already.

Lowe's is on target to have construction finished by October, according to Koch, and have the store open before the holidays at the end of this year.

The city council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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

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