The Kenai City Council passed an ordinance giving local businesses an edge in the competitive bidding process.
Introduced by council member Duane Bannock, the ordinance is patterned after one by the city of Palmer. That city recently repealed the preference due to the high cost of enforcement, according to City Attorney Cary Graves in a memo to the council.
The ordinance passed on a 6-0 vote. Council member Jim Bookey was absent.
Under the new measure, the city of Kenai can grant a bidder preference of 5 percent to any business with at least 180 days of verifiable presence in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The preference cannot, however, exceed $25,000.
The high limit was written into the ordinance to allow local contractors to remain competitive in large projects, up to $500,000.
The measure had broad support from the council. Bannock said it's an example of the city putting its money where its mouth is.
Council member Bill Frazer agreed.
"It's a statement that we support local businesses," he said.
Bannock said this was the third time this measure has come before the council. The other two times, 1981 and 1984, it failed, he said.
Bannock also said he did not want to limit the preference just to the city and said he spoke with business people in Soldotna assuring them it would be open to borough businesses.
The city lets out competitive bids on goods and service exceeding $10,000. Items less than that are negotiated by the administration, though City Manager Rick Ross said his department heads are under orders to buy local when they can.
In other council news:
n There were several new appointments to city commissions and committees. Mayor John Williams appointment Carrie Kleidon, an air traffic controller who lives in Nikiski, to the vacancy created by Bob Favretto's resignation from the Airport Commission in late June. Members of the Airport Commission, and the Historic Commission, do not need to be residents of the city of Kenai.
Williams appointed Kenai Central High School junior Katherine Amen to the Library Commission.
An open seat on the Parks and Recreation Commission was created by the departure of 2000 KCHS graduate Matthew Peters, who has left for college. The mayor asked that a letter be drawn up to thank Peters for his years of service while in high school and to wish him continued success.
Sean O'Reilly was appointed to the Harbor Commission after Mike McCune was removed for excessive absences.
That marks the second time in recent weeks the council has removed a commissioner for absenteeism. In late July, Don Gough was removed from the Planning and Zoning Commission and was replaced by Mike Morris. Also at that meeting, Sam Huddleston was appointed to the Council on Aging.
n The council discussed the possibility of adding more sidewalks to Leif Hansen Memorial Park so more memorial plaques can be added. Council member Linda Swarner said people have asked her if there was a less expensive option than the $400 plaques the city installs along the sidewalks.
Williams floated the idea of a memorial wall with engraved bricks or tiles as a less expensive option. For the design of the wall, he suggested a contest, such as the city did with its logo during its bicentennial.
n The council established a new pay rate rate for the Senior Employment Program, bumping the wage from $5.97 per hour to $6.50 per hour. Williams thought that rate was still too low.
"The chair will entertain an amendment increasing that to $10 an hour," he said.
There were no takers, possibly because the Senior Community Service Employment Grant from the state of Alaska pays for salary and is fixed.
"I think it's a shame that someone 55 years old needs to be retrained at the meager wage of $6.50 an hour," he said. "That reflects badly on our society."
n The council appropriated from the general fund $61,881 to match a $144,390 grant from the state for street improvements.
n The council appropriated $3,315.95 from a state state grant to purchase a new overhead projector for the police department.
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