Assembly lives up to promised budget increase of $525,000

Schools get funding boost

Posted: Friday, September 05, 2003

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly made good on its part of an education budget increase Tuesday, adding more than $525,000 to the FY 2004 schools budget.

The increase is a result of a bill signed into law June 6 by Gov. Frank Murkowski, the net effect of which was an increase in the bor school district budget of slightly more than $1.9 million. That figure includes a boost in the allowable local contribution of $525,658. Ordinance 2003-19-06, which was approved unanimously, appropriated that local contribution.

As district originally approved, the school budget was $89.3 million, which included $31.1 million to be provided from local sources, commonly called the "local match," an amount limited by law.

Senate Bill 2002 upped the state's per-student allocation to $4,169, an increase of $159 per child. Other changes resulting from the law combined to create increases to school budgets across the state, including that of peninsula school district, which saw its total budget rise to $91.2 million with the local match lifted to $31.6 million.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education approved a revised budget at its July 7 meeting. Ordinance 2003-19-06 reflects the requested supplemental appropriation.

The $1.9 million was distributed among several budget areas including $624,356 for math and foreign language curriculum adoption, $400,000 to unallocated staffing, $1.24 million for supplies and $275,048 to help cover

the cost of summer school in 2004.

In other business, the assembly passed Ordinance 2003-19-11, accepting and appropriating a $68,200 grant from the U.S. Forest Service for the forest health restoration program, part of the borough's spruce bark beetle mitigation project.

The money will help pay the cost of reforesting approximately 2,000 acres of borough-owned land scheduled for planting during the summer of 2004, according to Bonnie Golden, grants manager for the borough. The total cost is expected to be $272,800.

The assembly also postponed action on Resolution 2003-094, a measure introduced by assembly member Gary Superman of Nikiski, supporting a pair of bills now before the Alaska Legislature that would allow electronic gaming machines in the state.

Superman said the bills CSHB 240 and SB 186 could result in increased revenues at the state and local level.

Other members of the assembly, however, expressed concerns over the impact of gambling and about backing such legislation this early in the process because of the chance that language backed now easily could change between now and the next legislative session.

Assembly member John Davis of Kenai moved to postpone assembly action on the resolution until the first meeting in February.

In Resolution 2003-098, the assembly voted to name the central peninsula landfill expansion project as its number one priority for state funding during FY 2005. The move was seen as necessary to help boost the borough's chances of securing a grant through the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation amounting to $2.24 million.

Borough voters already have approved a bond measure to fund the expansion project. The grant money would defray those costs.

The assembly also:

n Introduced Ordinance 2003-19-14, which would accept and appropriate two state grants totaling $36,071 for the borough's Coastal Management Program. A hearing is set for Oct. 14.

n Introduced Ordinance 2003-19-15, which would accept and appropriate a $20,000 grant from the Alaska Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services for preparing an All-Hazard Mitigation Plan. A hearing is set for Sept. 16.

n Introduced Ordinance 2003-19-16, which would accept and appropriate another state grant for the borough's Coastal Manag-ement Program amounting to $39,020. A hearing is set for Oct. 14.

n Introduced Ordinance 2003-19-17, which would appropriate $17 million for the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area expansion project. About $10.5 million is to come from general obligation bonds already appr-oved by service area voters and $6.5 million will come from hospital revenues. A hearing is set for Oct. 14.

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