Propositions OK'd

Posted: Wednesday, October 04, 2000

Voters turned thumbs up on all three ballot propositions Tuesday, approving a school bond (see related story, this page), creating a fire and emergency medical service area on the southern peninsula, and giving the borough road construction powers.

Homer area voters gave a strong answer on Proposition 2 in Tuesday's election, opening the door for creation of the Greater Kachemak Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley expressed his support of the voters' decision, which was approved by 524 of the 670 people who cast votes.

"I think it indicates that the people outside of Homer want to do this," Bagley said. "They're off and running with the fire service issue."

Passage of this ordinance will create a fire service area with a population of approximately 3,571, according to Ed Oberts, assistant to Bagley. A provision in the ordinance states that no mill levy in excess of 1.75 mills will be levied on the area. However, that cap is not firm. Using this year's certified taxed values, that area currently accounts for a taxable amount of nearly $213 million, which would equal $372.555 based on 1.75 mills.

"That would be the main source of revenue for the area," Oberts said, listing other miscellaneous sources as state revenue sharing, personal property tax, motor vehicle tax, possible ambulance billing and various grants.

"The intent is to get a five-member board appointed fairly fast so they can get started putting together an operating plan," Oberts said.

The appointees will go to the borough assembly for confirmation and all five seats will be up for election in the next municipal election, October 2001. Borough assembly member Chris Moss of Homer said he thinks the fire service is a good idea.

"The proof will be if they can do it for the 1.75 mill rate," he said, adding that a contract with the city of Homer to help provide the necessary fire and emergency response coverage will be crucial.

"There hasn't been a whole lot of contact between the city and the people doing this," he said. "That's really the key issue."

Peninsula voters also gave approval for adoption by the borough of road construction powers. The much narrower 1,556-to-1,418-vote margin reflected the divided opinion on the matter.

"Anytime the borough takes on a new power, it's something we should be careful of," Bagley said. "It will allow us to possibly go ahead with extension of the North Spur Road."

In 1981, the borough adopted road maintenance powers and in 1985 approved improvement powers in four separate road service areas. In 1991, those separate areas were consolidated into one single maintenance and improvement area. Passage of this proposition clears confusion between "maintenance" and "construction."

"We'll just have to see what the mayor's office and the assembly wants to consider as far as how this might impact the roads department," said Gary Davis, borough roads director.

"But it will certainly let us consider construction as opposed to strictly improvements."

Holly Montague, the assistant borough attorney who advises the road service area board, said the following criteria will be considered by the board when reviewing possible road construction projects: whether the road is a collector road; whether it accesses public lands or facilities; whether there is available road service area funding; whether there is other funding sources available for the project; and whether the construction would provide an improved alternate route that is already on a road maintenance system.

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