Council limits visitor guide expense

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2008

Kenai lawmakers on Wednesday decided to meet the local tourism industry halfway by limiting the city manager to negotiate a $5,000 advertising deal in a Kenai visitors guide.

One month ago, representatives of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau asked the council to purchase eight full-color pages in a planned Kenai guide at an estimated cost of $10,000.

Because the city had not previously budgeted for the expense, the purchase could not be approved at the meeting, and council members agreed to have the city administration look into the proposal.

City Manager Rick Koch told the council on Wednesday that he learned the expected circulation of the planned guide is 60,000.

"The visitors center gets 10,000 requests ... and the chamber gets 2,000 requests," Koch said, referring to the number of requests for guide booklets published by others in the past and mailed to interested parties.

"I would prefer to see (the purchase) as part of the budget process, but I think it's worthwhile," Koch said. "I think we should consider up to $4,000 in advertising in the book."

Councilman Bob Molloy said he would support spending $5,000. Council members Rick Ross and Linda Swarner agreed with that amount.

Councilman Mike Boyle, however, said because this is the joint venture's first attempt at a Kenai-only guide, "I think we should support it in fine fashion," adding the council should spend the originally requested amount.

"I think it's worth going a little extra this, their first year," said Councilman Barry Eldridge. Councilman Hal Smalley also said he would support spending $10,000 "this time only."

A motion by Boyle to purchase $10,000 in advertising failed on a 3-4 vote.

Ross then moved to have the city administration negotiate a purchase of up to $5,000. His motion passed unanimously.

During his city manager's report, Koch told council members he is planning another meeting with property owners along Ames Road on a new proposal regarding individual assessments for having the road paved.

Because 17 properties are on one side of the road and only two are on the other side, coming up with an equitable assessment methodology to pay for the street improvement has proved problematic.

If assessments were equally divided among the 19 owners, each would need to pay $10,600. If assessments are based on frontage and square footage -- the more typical method -- the two property owners on the west side of Ames would pay the largest shares at $35,500 and $47,500 with the 17 property owners across the street each paying about $5,100.

The council is tentatively scheduled to revisit the limited improvement district at its Oct. 15 meeting.

City Attorney Cary Graves told council members a draft cell phone tower ordinance will be on the next Planning and Zoning Commission agenda.

The proposed ordinance is in response to a resident's protest of a cell phone tower planned for installation across from the person's home.

Alaska DigiTel had planned to erect the tower in the parking lot of Kenai Grace Brethren Church at the intersection of the Kenai Spur Highway and McCollum Drive.

Initially the company sought permission to erect a 120-foot tower, leasing a portion of the property from the church, but amended its plan to an 80-foot tower.

At the June 25 plan commission meeting, a request by DigiTel to exceed height restrictions and erect the 80-foot cell phone antenna tower was denied.

In other council business Wednesday, a resolution was passed setting a priority list for state and federal funding requests with $2,070,000 for new water transmission lines and new water wells taking the top spot on the list.

Kenai bluff stabilization and library expansion funding followed in the number two and three spots respectively. Street improvement funding ran a close fourth.

The council also appointed five people to an advisory cemetery committee to formulate a plan for expanding the Kenai city cemetery.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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