Kenai Council hears cool news

Posted: Friday, September 19, 2008

Some cool news was presented to Kenai City Council members by a couple of top city administrators Wednesday night.

City Attorney Cary Graves reported that the city received a cool $17,000 in Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend attachments from people who received their dividends electronically. The city attaches the dividends of those who failed to pay traffic citations in Kenai.

Graves said he expects to get "a little more" from people who receive their dividends in the form of paper checks next month. Last year, the city collected $14,000, Graves said.

On a cooler -- some would say fearfully chillier -- note, City Manager Rick Koch reported that ice will soon be in at the ConocoPhillips-Kenai Multipurpose Facility ice rink.

"We usually put ice in in the first week in October," Koch said. The Soldotna Sports Center already has ice for the Kenai River Brown Bears hockey team, he said.

Things warmed up a bit for senior employees of the city when the council approved a change to the salary schedule as it pertains to city workers frozen in the highest pay grade.

Two years after reaching salary step CC, those employees will now be paid an annual 2 percent longevity bonus.

Mayor Pat Porter and Councilmen Barry Eldridge and Rick Ross voted against the salary ordinance.

"I don't go along with the idea of bonuses in government," said Ross.

The council unanimously approved two ordinances Wednesday evening appropriating nearly $100,000 for dune rehabilitation and conservation at the city's north and south beaches.

The grant-funded work will include transplanting sprigs of wild rye dune grass primarily at north beach, and at south beach if funding is available. Also, 1,960 square feet of elevated walkways and 5,000 feet of fencing will be installed to protect sensitive dune habitat on the north beach, particularly during the high-traffic dipnet fishery every July.

Wednesday's council meeting began with a presentation by coaches of the Kenai Central High School Nordic ski team. Skiers contracted with the city to clean the beach following this summer's dipnet season.

Assistant coach D'Anna Gibson thanked the city for the opportunity to raise money for the student athletes, and Mayor Porter said it is the city that should be thanking the students.

"You did such a wonderful job," Porter said. "I've heard from a number of people who said they had never seen (the beach) look better."

The students would like to repeat the chore next year and Porter suggested they contact the city manager to make the arrangements.

Action was postponed on a Councilman Bob Molloy-sponsored ordinance altering the municipal code as it pertains to preparing, distributing and publishing the agenda for council meetings.

After some public comment and comments from the sponsor, the council decided to schedule a work session on the ordinance for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 15, preceding the regular council meeting.

Anticipating a future increase in the number of drift-fishing boats on the Kenai River as a means for lowering hydrocarbon pollution, the council approved a resolution asking the state to establish a lower-river, drift-boat pullout project as a high priority for state and federal funding.

Earlier in the meeting, the council members heard from Kenai Watershed Forum Executive Director Robert Ruffner, who said, "It appears like we've solved the issue of hydrocarbons in the river."

He attributed the lowered levels of pollution to "local agencies and this body" working together.

Because a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Peace remains in committee, a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Linda Swarner supporting the new department was pared down to a resolution "supporting the concept of peace both in the world and locally."

The substitute resolution passed unanimously.

The council also approved precinct workers for the upcoming Oct. 7 Regular Municipal Election.

Mary Troy Castimore will chair the election board for precinct 1. Board members will be Virginia Walters, Mary Quesnel, Dean Jack Castimore and Richard Hultberg, who will be an alternate.

In precinct 2, Lucille Barton will chair. Board members will be Dallas Armstrong, Deborah Fullinck, Patricia Robinson and Betty Glick. Precinct 3 will be chaired by Kari Mohn with Mary Estes, Ruby Christopherson, Lila Mae Schroeder and David Merrill serving as board members.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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