Following hours of debate Thursday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly adopted a $60 million fiscal year 2006 budget and voted to keep the current borough property tax levy at 6.5 mills.
Thursday's meeting was a continuation of Tuesday's regular assembly meeting. The assembly was unable to complete its lengthy agenda Tuesday night and reconvened Thursday at 10 a.m.
Budget Ordinance 2005-19 was adopted by a unanimous vote, but not before a host of small changes to various line items made additional cuts to larger reductions already proposed by the administration. The $60,195,214 total budget proposed by the administration, fell by an additional $44,580.
General government operations, the day-to-day costs of running the borough government was proposed at $13.79 million, which represented a cut from the $13.93 million being spent in the current fiscal year. The assembly reduced that further to just under $13.5 million.
Appropriations for solid waste handling was cut from $4.21 million to $4.17 million, while the Kenai River Center will have to accommodate a $10,417 cut from the proposed $427,595.
Several special revenue funds, mostly service areas, lost relatively small amounts from their proposed budgets as the assembly attempted to demonstrate it was trying to hold the line on spending.
Examples of the cuts include such things as the Nikiski Fire Service Area's proposed budget of $3.1 million, which was shaved to $3.03 million. A proposed increase in the service area's mill rate also was defeated, leaving the mill rate at 2.3 mills.
Central Emergency Service Area dropped from a proposed $4.24 million to $4.16 million, while the Kenai Peninsula Borough Road Service Area was cut from a proposed $4.07 million to $4.05 million.
The assembly then took up Resolution 2005-043, setting the mill rates for the borough and several service areas.
Here are the mill rates for the next fiscal year:
Kenai Peninsula Borough, 6.5 mills
Nikiski Fire Service Area, 2.3 mills
Bear Creek Fire SA, 2.25 mills
Anchor Point Fire SA, 2.0 mills
Central Emergency SA, 2.35 mills
Kachemak Emergency SA, 1.75 mills
Lowell Point Emergency SA, 1.75 mills
Central Peninsula Emergency Medical SA, 1.0 mill
North Peninsula Recreation SA, 1.0 mill
Kenai Peninsula Borough Road SA, 1.4 mills
KPB Post Secondary Education, .10 mill
Seward Bear Creek Flood SA, .50 mill
Nikiski Senior SA, .20 mill
Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital SA, 1.75 mills
South Peninsula Hospital SA, 1.75 mills
At one point, there was an effort to sunset the Community and Economic Development District on Jan. 31, 2006, which the borough voted on Tuesday to fully fund for the next year. However, after a lengthy discussion, the assembly turned back that effort by a 4-5 vote.
That leaves the CEDD funding intact at least through fiscal year 2006, which ends July 1 of next year. The assembly agreed it would leave the new mayor and new assembly to be elected in the fall sufficient time to determine which direction economic development should take in the future.
The Central Area Rural Transit System, or CARTS, saw its budget cut by $20,000, on a 5-4 vote, following an amendment proposed by assembly member Grace Merkes of Sterling.
An attempt to cut the borough's lobbying costs from $55,000 to $25,000, also introduced by Merkes, was defeated by a 4-5 vote.
Merkes also sought to cut spending to the Cook Inlet Salmon Branding program from the proposed $125,000 to $75,000. That failed by a 4-5 vote, as well.
A motion by Dan Chay of Kenai to reduce a proposed $100,000 appropriation to the Arctic Winter Games to $25,000 also was turned back. The assembly voted 8-1 to include the full $100,000. Assembly member Betty Glick of Kenai said she, for one, had made a commitment several years ago to a borough participation of up to $500,000.
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