Tom Boedeker is doing a good job for Soldotna, according to the city council.
The council held a work session Wednesday to evaluate the city manager's performance. It gave him high marks and a raise.
"The city manager was given a glowing report tonight," Mayor Ken Lancaster said afterward at the regular council meeting.
The council authorized a raise in Boedeker's annual salary from $80,000 to $85,000. No one objected.
Boedeker became Soldotna's city manager in 1996. He previously served as Kenai Peninsula Borough attorney.
In other city council business:
n Airport lease rate increases will be phased in under a compromise measure.
The city and aviation businesses found themselves in a quandary last month.
The city charges tenants at the Soldotna Municipal Airport 7 percent of the appraised land value of the lots each year. Every five years, the city adjusts the rent, as mandated by an ordinance dating back to the 1980s.
The 2000 appraisals were delayed, and, when the numbers became available last month, they showed a steep increase for some tenants, effective July 1. Two business owners attended the June 28 council meeting and complained that the increase was too much and too sudden.
City officials expressed sympathy, noting that aviators have faced major cost increases for fuel and insurance this year.
The lease rate compromise retains the current rates for the 2000-01 fiscal year and phases in the increases over the following four years.
Tim Pope of Natron Air, who had attended the previous council meeting, voiced approval for the solution.
"I would like to express my support for this resolution," he told the council. "This year those of us in the airline business got hit from all sides."
The substitute resolution authorizing the phased-in changes passed unanimously.
n The future of the Soldotna Sports Center Complex will start taking form soon.
The council unanimously approved a contract with Raven Contractors Inc. to develop a conceptual plan for the possible development of the complex together with a cost estimate of the proposed improvements.
Raven will meet with city staff and groups that use the adjacent city land, then the firm will hold a public meeting to solicit people's ideas for what they would like to see on the site in future years. The project is due for completion around the end of September, Boedeker said.
The other bidder for the work, Livingston Slone, submitted an equally good proposal, he told the council, but the city opted to accept Raven's proposal because it was less expensive and allowed more public participation. The amount of the contract is $26,365.
n The downtown riverfront lot, once the home of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities road maintenance shop, will someday become a Soldotna city park. The first visible step in that direction is imminent, Boedeker told the council.
The city is working with DOT to put topsoil and grass seed on the eight acres along the Sterling Highway between Don Jose's Mexican Restaurant and Davis Block and Concrete. The tentative agreement is that the state will pay for the supplies and the city will provide the labor. One complication is protecting 13 monitoring wells installed on the property in the wake of a three-year, $1.4-million cleanup of old gas and oil leaks.
Boedeker reported that city earthwork is beginning, and he said he hopes the field will be green rather than gravel soon.
n Store sign sizes may become an issue again.
Boedeker told the council a planning and zoning commission discussion of a variance for Johnson Tire Service, which will open a store on the Sterling Highway across from Safeway, reopened the issue. Commissioners and businesses expressed concern that the current limit of 81 square feet may be too small.
n Riverside Drive residents are complaining about traffic problems on their road during the school year.
Pamela Hansen asked the council to authorize a stop sign for the intersection of Riverside and Marcus to slow drivers who zip through the neighborhood as a shortcut from Kobuk to the Kenai River bridge.
She offered to pay for the sign herself to address what she called a dangerous situation.
"We have had a real traffic problem with Riverside from day one," she said.
The next meeting of the Soldotna City Council will be July 26 at 7:30 p.m. at city hall on Birch Street.
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