Borough Assembly approves money for Winter Games

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2003

KENAI (AP) The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has approved a $200,000 budget for the nonprofit agency that will raise funds and manage the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.

The international winter sports competition and cultural event is held every two years, bringing together about 1,600 young athletes from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Siberian Russia and northern Scandinavia.

The assembly and the borough administration still face a host of questions from citizens over the potential costs of the games.

Questions include how much financial exposure borough property taxpayers actually face; who will help the borough fulfill its promises that financial backing will come from industries, cities and other groups; who will build, maintain and ultimately own facilities that may be built for the games; and whether the expense of the games will be a drag on the borough's savings account.

''My family are all property taxpayers, and my concern is the amount of money that will be spent,'' said Lenore Jones of Kenai.

She went on to ask just what kind of facilities are needed for the project.

''Will the public have to support these facilities after the games are over? I haven't been able to find that information anywhere,'' she said.

Charles Dickson of Soldotna asked the assembly to table the ordinance approving the Host Society budget for 120 days.

''At which time I expect you to come back to me with letters in hand quoting people who are going to pay for this,'' he said. ''Right now, you're gambling.''

James Price of Nikiski also asked where the money for the games would come from. He called for a cap on borough financial participation and a requirement that borough funds be matched through other fund-raising efforts.

''I question the rosy fund-raising projections and feel that if this project had been well thought out that the questions that many of us have asked previously would have been answered promptly,'' he said.

Price went on to say he would prefer to see a ballot question to test public support for borough financial backing of the games.

Former assembly member Tim Navarre of Kenai said there would be plenty of financial help coming as the Host Society begins its fund-raising efforts in earnest, including from international companies that will participate, paying money as they have in previous games.

Beyond the money, Navarre pointed to the opportunities for cultural exchange.

''Let's not stop the dream. Let's get the questions answered,'' he said. ''You don't need people to put up road blocks.''



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