Gilman: Getting city's finances in order his No. 1 goal

Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2003

If elected to the two-year Kenai City Council term he is seeking, Blaine Gilman would have one main priority the city's budget.

"I don't have any particular projects I want to see happen, I just want to see the economy grow," he said.

Gilman, 42, has lived in Kenai since 1976 (expect for the seven years he spent in college outside the state) and graduated from high school here. He and his wife, Margaret, have four children. This investment of time in the area has spurred him to run for the council.

"I got married here and had four children here and have always been active in politics, helping out behind the scenes, and felt that it was my turn," he said.

Gilman is an attorney in Kenai and said his experience representing clients against municipalities would be helpful to him in the capacity of council member.

"I know what it takes to be able to communicate well with other council members and actually get things done," he said.

"You can't expect everybody to agree with you on all issues. If somebody disagrees with you, you have to accept that ... and hope on the next issue that you have to address that you can find common ground with that person."

He is a member of the Kenai and Nikiski chambers of commerce and the Kenai Builders Association.

Gilman said, if elected, he will not vote for any budget that is not balanced. He thinks the city's budget reserves have been spent down too low and wants that practice to stop.

"What has to happen is we really need to start adding back into the unrestricted budget reserve," he said. "... In the future (the interest rate on the city's investments) is probably going to increase. In the meantime we've spent down the reserves to such a level where we can't make anything on interest anymore. It's kind of a downward spiral. I think it's reached the point with the reserve where we can't take any more out of it."

To put the city in firmer financial standing, Gilman suggests going out to bond to finance future capital projects, considering not filling some city positions as employees retire or take other jobs, and outsourcing certain city services, including facility management, beautification, possibly street maintenance, and some Parks and Recreation Department duties, like cutting the grass.

"Even outsourcing is not something that happens overnight," Gilman said. "It's not going to solve the fiscal problems itself but it is a direction we need to go."

Gilman said he is not in favor of raising taxes in general, but if it became necessary to do so, he would support a 1 percent increase in the city's sales tax, but only if the property tax was lowered 1 mill at the same time.

Though he is not pleased with the financial situation the city is in now, Gilman is overall optimistic about the future of Kenai.

"I have a real strong bond with this community," he said.

"I've seen it progress. I've lived on the peninsula most of my life. I've seen Kenai when it was just a little town and it has really grown large. I see a very prominent future for it and I just want it to go in the right direction. I don't want to be put in a financial situation where we have to do some drastic things."

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