Assembly faces busy agenda

Posted: Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Accepting grants and appropriating money will take up much of Tuesday's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, as state funding made available in the fiscal year 2009 capital budget, as well as funding from other sources, makes its way to designated recipients.

The assembly will hear testimony and likely take a final vote on most of the 14 ordinances on the agenda. A dozen of them involve grant funds targeting firefighting, recreation, roads and coastal management, but one of those is set for a second hearing on Sept. 16. Another ordinance set for a second hearing Sept. 16 anticipates the impact of the tax-free food initiative on the Oct. 7 municipal ballot and its revenue impact on general law cities should it pass.

Biggest among the spending packages is the $6,875,000 in Ordinance 2008-11, state funding earmarked for capital improvement projects in the Road Service Area. State funds approved by the Legislature for borough road projects totaled $8.4 million, a sum already tapped by the assembly for two projects: $1.4 million for Keystone Drive, and $125,000 more to the Nikiski Beach Access Project. Ordinance 2008-11 will make the remaining funds available to the service area.

Future projects will each require assembly approval, according to Bonnie Golden, borough grants manager.

Spending measures supporting firefighting efforts of the Nikiski Fire Service Area include Ordinance 2008-19-03, which would appropriate $550,000 to the Nikiski Fire Service Area for purchase of a fire engine, and Ordinance 2008-19-04, which will provide another $6,375 for further equipment purchases.

Central Emergency Services is in line for its own $7,000 equipment grant through Ordinance 2008-19-05, while Ordinance 2008-19-08 will provide $9,693 to the Bear Creek Fire Service Area for the same purpose. The Bear Creek Fire Service Area also is in line for a $55,000 grant for a multiuse facility through Ordinance 2008-19-09.

Ordinance 2008-19-06 would appropriate a state grant of $750,000 to CES for installation of firefighting water supply points in outlying areas of the borough. Each would include a 20,000-gallon underground cistern and systems capable of delivering 1,000 gallons per minute to waiting tankers. The cisterns will act as rural hydrants during structure or wild-land fire emergencies, the borough said.

Ordinance 2008-19-16 would appropriate $100,000 to cover the excess costs of building the Nikolaevsk Fire Station.

Other ordinances up for public hearings on Tuesday include:

* Ordinance 2008-19-07, appropriating a state grant of $505,000 for school equipment and supplies;

* Ordinance 2008-19-09, appropriating a state grant of $475,000 for the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area Community Recreation Center;

* Ordinance 2008-19-13, appropriating a state grant of $27,290 for the borough's Coastal Management Program's coastal erosion study;

* Ordinance 2008-19-18, appropriating a $1,369,125 grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service for a voluntary land buyout in the Old Mill Subdivision near Seward. The measure requires a $456,375 local match. The money will be used to acquire land at fair market value from property owners in a flood-prone region near Seward. (First of two hearings);

* Ordinance 2008-23 would amend borough code regarding hardship exemptions, extending the application deadline from May 15 to July 1. Senior citizen property owners are required to pay taxes on the value of their primary homes that exceeds the borough's $300,000 cap. This measure applies to those property owners applying for an exemption from taxes in excess of 2 percent of their gross household income. The administration has recommended moving the application deadline to July 1 to afford seniors more time;

* Ordinance 2008-28 would authorize general law cities within the borough to levy and collect sales taxes on nonprepared foods even if the tax-free food initiative, Proposition 1, is approved by voters and begins applying within the borough. General law cities (Homer, Soldotna and Seldovia) would have to pass their own ordinances to actually levy those taxes. Kenai and Seward are home rule cities and are already empowered to collect such taxes. It is the first of two hearings.

Hal Spence can be reached at

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