Kenai's budget back in black

Legislature's funding increase leaves city with surplus funds

Posted: Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Kenai City Council is comfortable with its budget numbers for fiscal year 2005-06. The budget is $20,000 in the black.

While the city appropriates more than it takes in, there is an estimated 7 percent of those funds it historically does not spend, which equates to the roughly $20,000 surplus in the budget. The approved general fund is now $9,687,890.

Kenai Finance Director Larry Semmens said the $278,000 appropriated by the Legislature for the 5 percent funding increase to the Public Employees Retirement System made a major difference for Kenai's budget and for municipalities across the state.

"The PERS rate went up 5 percent this year and I think it's important to see that the Legislature recognized the need to fund this," Semmens said. "I was not at all sure they would be sympathetic to the situation."

According to Semmens, if the Legislature had not appropriated funds for PERS, Kenai would have been looking at a $215,000 deficit.

The budget is about a half million dollars larger than last year's. Revenue in the city is expected to rise next year due to higher ambulance fees and an increase in the amount of interest the city expects to receive on its money.

The final reading of the Kenai city budget will be held June 8.

Kenai City Manager Linda Snow said the PERS money was important to the budget. Due to the increase in PERS funding from the Legislature, the city is afforded room in its budget to pay for local improvements including street paving and water and sewer projects.

She said the budget turned out quite well, considering obstacles.

"This is the way we wanted it to end up — with a balanced amount and even a slight surplus," Snow said. "People would like lower taxes and not everyone agrees with every single item, but this budget reflects a job well done by the elected officials."

In new business, the council heard a short presentation by a spokesperson from ConocoPhillips regarding a future proposal to temporarily name a park after the company, in a partnership with the city. The council recommended the presentation be heard at a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting which is slated for the first week in July in the council chambers.

In other action Wednesday, the council:

n Added negligent driving, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and violations of airport parking regulations to the list of minor offenses on the fine schedule that can be dealt with without a court appearance.

City Attorney Cary Graves said the action would make the offenses much easier to deal with on an administrative level, lessening the burden of the courts.

n Voted against expressing support for the Kenai Peninsula Borough comprehensive plan.

Council member Rick Ross said he would not support the borough plan because it failed to address some of Kenai's major issues.

n Fixed the rate of levy of property tax at 4.5 mills for the fiscal year that starts July 1 2005 and ends June 30, 2006.

n Transferred $7,500 for repairs to be made to the Kenai Historical Society building, which would cover the cost of siding.

n Awarded a $22,520 bid to Denny's Construction Inc. for the concrete repairs in 21 sidewalk locations.



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