Some got more, some got less and some were told to wait during the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly's budget deliberations on Tuesday.
The assembly addressed a number of amendments that added to, deleted from and maintained the status quo for previous appropriations, finally granting its blessing of a $50.8 million appropriation to the general fund for fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2002.
Several amendments were requested by Mayor Dale Bagley. The first asked for an increase of $110,000 to hire a prison project manager. The draft description of the position listed the minimum qualifications as a bachelor's degree in a related field with a minimum of 10 years experience in organizing and managing complex projects, required a knowledge of prison issues and practices, and asked for experience working within the prison field and interaction with elected officials and legislative bodies at both the state and local level.
As outlined by Bagley, the manager would develop project scheduling; ensure the necessary resources are available; develop lines of communication with the Alaska Department of Corrections, contractors, borough staff and project stakeholders; coordinate with the various entities involved; take the lead in contract negotiations; provide regular project status reports to the borough mayor and assembly; and serve as the borough's representative for the project.
"If the prison project does not go forward and bonds are not issued, then these costs will be treated as an operating expenditure of the general fund," wrote Jeff Sinz, borough finance director, in a memo to the assembly.
An increase of $300,000 for the Nikiski Fire Service Area was included to FY02, after it was erroneously entered for two years down the road. The money will fund the preliminary planning, design and siting of a new station to provide service in the North Road extension area.
The public's interest in disposing of abandoned vehicles is anticipated to result in costs exceeding $75,000 authorized during FY01. To make up the difference, the mayor requested an additional $30,000.
Going home with considerably less than requested was Central Area Rural Transit System Inc. CARTS Executive Director Kristin Lambert had requested a grant from the borough in the amount of $250,000, an increase of $200,000 beyond what the borough gave the organization in 2000.
Reviewing CART's budget for 2002, assembly members asked Lambert to identify which budget items were attributed to the $250,000 being requested.
"Where does the $250,000 go?" asked Bill Popp, who represents Kenai on the assembly.
Lambert replied that it went into operations, but that she could not break it out until the borough actually gave the money.
Rewording Popp's questions, Ron Long, who represents Seward, asked for specific information about budget items that would go away if CARTS didn't receive the $250,000. Lambert said she couldn't give specific items.
"Unmarked bills are a great way to have money," Long said. "I wish I could do that, too."
Assembly member Paul Fischer, of Kasilof, said what disturbed him about the request was that the organization "doesn't have a balanced budget to begin with." The assembly and the public also voiced concerns about providing funds to a nonprofit organization.
"For government to make a contribution out of my tax dollars is not a correct function of government," said John Kissler of K-Beach. "Zero out the CARTS budget. If it's a non-profit, treat it as such."
The mayor added his concerns to other being voiced.
"I am willing to do $25,000," Bagley said. "That is a big deal. It's not chump change. But now to ask for $225,000 more?"
He asked the assembly to consider the request "very, very carefully."
A seven-to-two vote awarded the transportation group $50,000, with Mark Powell, of Nikiski, and Paul Fischer, of Kasilof, voting against it.
Asked to provide more information to the assembly before its budget could be approved was the Kachemak Emergency Service Area board. Confusion regarding the board's request and the direction the newly formed organization is taking were raised by the assembly. As a solution, Popp introduced an amendment to authorize a $50,000 contingency fund until the assembly and the board could meet in July.
Speaking on behalf of KESA, assembly member Milli Martin said she disagreed with the postponement.
"They gave a great deal of time to develop the budget before you," she said, urging the assembly to approve the budget. Although Martin said the board would be willing to work with the assembly, she said "What is suggested here is not right ... I cannot support this amendment."
It passed on a six-to-three vote, with Martin, Fischer and Grace Merkes, of Sterling, voting in opposition.
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