The nearly empty city council chambers at Kenai City Hall Wednesday night did not go unnoticed by Mayor John Williams.
Despite the gravity of the situation, only three members of the general public were in attendance, all of them regulars, and one was late.
"We're delighted to see all the members of the public who chose to join us here this evening as we authorize spending $13 million," the mayor said.
Williams asked for comments from the public regarding the spending bill, which would dip into the city's savings account for around $100,000 to balance. One woman had no comment, while former Kenai librarian Emily DeForest said, "Just pass it, please."
Bob Peters, who sits on the library commission, commented, "Well, it sounds like a hot deal to serve this community of 7,000 for only $13 million. Maybe you ought to think about spending more."
The city's general budget is $8,634,499. That is combined with other budget funds, such as water and sewer, the airport and senior services to reach the $13 million mark.
The measure, which had been hammered out over two marathon budget work session in May, passed 7-0.
In other council news from Wednesday's meeting:
n The council fixed the property tax levy at 3.5 mills, which is unchanged over last year.
n Air Tek Inc. won a bid for $39,269 for lighting work at the Kenai Municipal Airport. About 550 light fixtures will have their tubes and ballasts replaced, and 104 light fixtures in the office areas will be replaced. Air Tek's bid was about $4,000 less than the bids of Big G Electric and Kelly Electric.
n A resolution authorizing $9,420 to be spent replacing furniture in the city-owned Flight Service Station passed unanimously, despite misgivings by council member Duane Bannock.
"I've got a problem spending $9,000 for furniture," he said.
The new furniture was needed to accommodate upgraded radio equipment, which is incompatible with the current fixtures. The approximately $100,000 in new communications equipment is being paid for by a Federal Aviation Administration grant.
"Ten percent of the total cost seems marginal," the mayor said of the furniture.
n The council created a list of one to submit to Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley for appointment to the Borough Planning Commission. Phil Bryson, the current representative from Kenai, was the only name the council offered for Bagley to choose from.
n The council also authorized spending $7,200 on new tires for the Street Department's road grader.
n Another $19,870 was authorized to be awarded to William J. Nelson and Associates for engineering and overseeing construction of the street improvement project in Old Town near Erik Hansen Scout Park. The four-way intersection will be repaved and the parking lot there will be paved.
n Introduced at the meeting were several spending bills that will come up for public hearings at the next council meeting.
n An ordinance was introduced to transfer $1,200,000 for an ice refrigeration system at the city's ice rink, which includes $400,000 for buying out a group of private investors who made a loan to the city to complete construction. An additional $35,000 was earmarked to build a skateboard park.
n Also introduced was an ordinance that would require bed and breakfast operators to provide proof they are current on city taxes and utilities before being issued a conditional-use permit. It also requires B-and-B owners to submit a yearly report to the city, outlining their activity over the past year.
The next council meeting is scheduled for June 20.
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