School funding, revenue gap top Superman's issues

Posted: Sunday, September 26, 2004


  Gary Superman

Gary Superman

Residence: Mile .5 Bach Road, Nikiski

Mail address: P.O. Box 8425, Nikiski, AK 99635

Phone: 776-8448, 252-5264

Age: 53

Years in Alaska: 30

Family: Married, three children

Occupation: Builder, business owner

Education: 3 years college

Previous elected office: Nikiski Community Council founding member; Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly (1989-92; 2001-present).

Organizations: AML board of directors, Kenai Peninsula Cabaret, Hotel, Resort & Retail Association president, Alaska State CHARR Government Affairs chair. Nikiski Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Nikiski Community Council founding member.

1. Why do you want to be on the assembly?

We are doing pretty good as a borough now. There are a few things I would like to see move ahead with community choice out here (Nikiski). A couple are on the ballot at this point. I'm fairly conservative; some say progressive. I'm kind of an eclectic mix. I want to maintain and improve our quality of life out here.

2. What do you see as the three most important issues facing the assembly, the borough?

The ongoing school-funding problem even though we got a substantial increase in the foundation (formula) numbers, that's a temporary fix. Combine that with the declining amount of revenue help we get from state, and I think that the primary problem is how to deal with that gap. We also face some land-use conflicts that crop up in people's back yards, such as a firearms training facility near a subdivision. Those are incompatible uses, but there is no mechanism on the books to deal with it. I'm not a proponent of full-fledged zoning, but we have to come to grips with these problems.

3. What place should the borough's fund balance play in borough finances? Is it too large? Too small?

We are getting down to about the range where we should be. The administration set a policy of bringing the fund balance down to between $11 million and $22 million. We are close to $15 million. We are doing fairly well financially. The borough should watch that we don't get it down below what is needed for operating funds.

4. What should the borough be doing to attract business and industry to the area and create jobs that it isn't already doing?

I've been a proponent of the Community and Economic Development Division. I see some results there. It's important that the borough have individuals pursuing and advocating increased development in the borough. The borough was instrumental in starting the Kenai Wild (salmon marketing) program. That program has taken off.

5. What should the borough be doing to protect the environment that it isn't already doing?

Air, land and water quality stipulations are pretty much a state jurisdiction at this point. We do have potential for problems in gravel pits. Neighbors see them as possibly destructive. That is something we could tweak and tighten up to offer some protection to neighbors.

6. What is your position on Proposition 1, which would increase the residential real property tax exemption?

I was a prime sponsor and advocate of that proposition. I pushed for years and years even before I was on the assembly. We got a resolution to the Legislature. Sen. Tom Wagoner and Rep. Mike Chenault introduced it and last year it moved. It's not a great big number, but it does allow a measure of tax relief to locals. That's necessary to mitigate some of the increases in assessed valuations. Will it turn things around? No. But it will help stabilize the tax rate.

7. Why do you support or oppose Proposition 2, the Nikiski Law Enforcement Service Area? Proposition 3, clarifying service area powers? Proposition 4, reducing the cost of capital improvement projects?

On Proposition 2, I wrote that ordinance. It was a result of community meetings after a burglary ring hit the area. People were upset with the lack of presence of the authorities. The proposition asks if people are ready for some kind of police presence. Some feel that if we vote it in, we would automatically have a huge sheriff's department. That's far from what will happen.

Proposition 3 is a result of the attempt to take over the administration of the vacated Nikiski Elementary School. The North Peninsula Recreation Service Area did a number of surveys and did their best to assess community feelings. That board never wanted to build a new building. The old school met the purposes of community. But it came up against opposition from a small, vocal few. I'm voting no.

Proposition 4 seeks to decrease the size of capital projects requiring a vote to just $500,000 within the service area. I don't know if people understand what it costs to do projects today. They (the board) would have to go to a vote for the OK on every little thing. That is not appropriate at this time. I'm voting no.

8. What are three ways you differ from your opponent?

The big divisor between us is vision who has it and who doesn't. I've been a longtime advocate for this community both on and off the assembly. I sincerely believe I can move the community forward and do it at a responsible tax level. I know my opponent basically is against any kind of capital improvement or increase in services. He wants to go backwards. Being familiar with the mechanics of the borough and the dynamics of the area, I think we can do these things in a responsible manner. The idea that people would get eaten up in property taxes is beyond me. We have an opportunity to get more industry out here. The north end could be the staging area for the Pebble Mine project. I want this to be one of best communities in the borough.

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