CES grant money on borough agenda

Posted: Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Six ordinances are up for public hearing at tonight's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, including a measure accepting a $160,000 state grant targeting purchase of a new fire engine for Central Emergency Services.

However, the money will be used instead to reimburse service area funds already spent to acquire the vehicle.

Earlier this summer, said borough grants manager Bonnie Golden, CES was able to buy the fire engine for $189,050. Typically, such vehicles cost between $220,000 and $270,000, she said.

"By using service area funds to make the purchase prior to formal receipt of the grant, the service area saved at least $30,000," she said in a memo to the assembly.

The $160,000 in Ordinance 2007-19-05 was included in the state's FY 2008 Capital Budget.

Another state grant of $50,000, in Ordinance 2007-19-08, would allow the Nikiski Fire Service Area to purchase emergency equipment such as ATVs and snowmachines. Golden said the money was needed for off-road response vehicles and other equipment needed to reach approximately 300 remote cabins that cannot be reached by road.

"Declining revenues are being pushed to the limit due to helicopter usage costs, estimated at $5,700 per hour," Golden told the assembly. "Off-road response vehicles and equipment will provide residents with more timely and efficient access to medical and fire services."

Another state grant of $52,750, in Ordinance 2007-12, is earmarked for the borough's Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Program.

Concern over the wildfire danger on the peninsula led Congress to authorize direct lump-sum payments to the borough for mitigation work.

This latest payment will help meet objectives of community wildfire protection plans including home fire risk assessments and slash hauling projects.

A grant of $15,000 would be appropriated through Ordinance 2007-19-06 to Kachemak Emergency Service Area, which has identified the need for an all-terrain rescue vehicle and other fire support equipment.

Also up for public hearings on Tuesday are:

* Ordinance 2007-19-15, accepting a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant of $54,229 for the Bear Creek Fire Service Area for communications equipment and training.

* Ordinance 2007-30, extending the Dec. 31, 2007, termination date of Ordinance 2002-30 to allow continued tax exemptions for increases in the assessed value of property resulting from harvesting insect-infested timber.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.

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