I want to thank the Clarion on giving me this opportunity to express my views as a candidate for Kenai City Council.
The primary issue facing the city is the budget deficit. The city has not had a balance budget since 1996. In 1996 the unrestricted reserve balance was $8,000,000. It currently is $5,200,000. The city must stop deficit spending and balance its budget. We can no longer afford to spend down our savings account. Fortunately, there are better days on the horizon for the city with the addition of Home Depot to our business community. The city's sales tax revenue should increase by $600,000 with the opening of Home Depot; however, there is still not sufficient revenue to balance the budget without further cost savings. The city withdrew approximately $500,000 from its reserve balance for fiscal year 2004 and is facing mandatory increases to its budget for fiscal year 2005 in excess of $300,000. These mandatory increases are due to higher costs for PERS (public employees retirement system), insurance and workers compensation.
How then should the city come up with these further cost savings to balance its budget? The city needs to look toward the private sector through outsourcing certain city services. The test on whether a city service should be outsourced is whether the private sector can provide the same level of service at a lower price to the taxpayers. Services the city should consider to outsource are streets ($530,000), the dock ($102,000), parks ($190,000) and beautification ($87,000).
The trend of deficit spending must stop. Through the increase in sales tax revenues with the opening of Home Depot and the outsourcing of certain city services, the city can balance its budget.
My pledge to the voters is that I will not support a budget that does not balance. I would welcome your support.
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