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Soldotna manager eyes borough roads money

Posted: Monday, July 27, 2009

Soldotna's chief administrator is championing an effort to direct a share of borough roads funding to municipalities on the Kenai Peninsula.

City Manager Larry Semmens told members of the Soldotna City Council last week, when the Kenai Peninsula Borough receives funding for roads other than the taxes collected by way of the roads service area mill rate assessment on property owners outside city limits, he believes some of that earmarked funding should be shared with peninsula cities.

"I feel there should at least be a discussion at the borough assembly or borough administration level to consider roads inside the cities," said Semmens.

"I contacted other city managers," he said, adding they appear to be in agreement.

Roads funding to which Semmens was referring includes money directed to the borough from the state Legislature and, or stimulus funding heading toward the borough from the federal government.

Mayor Peter Micciche said, "The cities have 37 percent of the people and 20 percent of the roads (in the borough)."

Also during Wednesday's council meeting, Micciche directed council members' attention to a letter he wrote to the borough assembly and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District seeking support for "a collaborative funding effort" to get flashing school crossing lights installed on West Redoubt Avenue near Soldotna Middle and Redoubt Elementary schools.

In his letter, Micciche said the council already approved $30,000 in this year's city budget for the crossing lights, but one estimate put the cost at double that amount, principally because electrical power likely would need to be run beneath the roadway.

In other business, the council approved appropriating $1,182,500 for capital projects during fiscal year 2010.

The largest project on the list in terms of cost, is the first phase of construction work on the redevelopment of Soldotna Creek Park. The price tag for this phase of the development is $595,000.

Following discussion at the council's earlier July meeting, the paving of West Redoubt Avenue from Redoubt Elementary School to the end of the road was added. Cost for the paving is estimated at $225,000.

Public works Director Steve Bonebrake told the council West Redoubt is designated as a collector street in the city.

"The city has never required a developer to pave or construct a collector street (leading to a subdivision development)," Bonebrake said.

A number of improvements in and around city hall also are on the list including upgrading the air handling system at $12,000; concrete repairs at $40,000; design to improve the front entry steps at $40,000; and improvements to the records room at $50,000.

A resolution was approved awarding a $29,145 contract to Foster Construction Inc., to repair a sink hole near the intersection of Kobuk Street and Redoubt Avenue.

In a memo to Semmens, Bonebrake said the project covers approximately 100 linear feet south of the intersection and involves digging up unacceptable subsoils, replacing them with sand and gravel and replacing the sidewalk and asphalt driveway at the location.

The council unanimously adopted a priority list for Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation grant application requests for water and sewer projects.

The number one priority project seeks a $570,500 grant for water system improvements including modifying the existing well and well house B, installing an on-site chlorine generator and upgrading electronic controls.

The city would be required to provide a match in the amount of $244,500.

City Clerk Teresa Fahning said the filing period for those running for city council in the Oct. 6 municipal election opens at 8 a.m. Friday and closes at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

Four council seats will be open; two for three-year terms, one for a partial term expiring in two years and one for a partial term expiring in October next year.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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