Soldotna legislator to hold town meeting

Long-range fiscal plan on agenda

Posted: Sunday, October 07, 2001

A long-range fiscal plan for Alaska is the goal, and input from the public is a step in the right direction, according to Rep. Ken Lancaster, R-Soldotna.

Lancaster is part of a fiscal policy committee formed last spring by 20 members of the state House of Representatives and several senators wanting to create a plan for the state. Over the summer, the group has met with members of the public in Homer, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, with additional meetings scheduled in Kodiak, Fairbanks and Southeast.

On Tuesday, central peninsula residents will have an opportunity to share their ideas at a town meeting at the Soldotna Senior Center from 5:30 until 8 p.m.

"We want the public to tell us what they would like to see done and what they would like us to do," Lancaster said. "And then we'll go to Juneau and move forward."

Lancaster will be joined on Tuesday by Larry Persily, deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Revenue, Annalee McConnell, director of the governor's Office of Management and Budget, and Jerry Kelly, of the Permanent Fund Dividend office. Prior to the town meeting, Lancaster and Persily will also appear on a local radio talk show and at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce noon luncheon at Riverside House.

In November, the committee will compile the information it has gathered for use in developing the parameters of a long-range fiscal plan to be presented to legislators after the session convenes in January 2002.

Lancaster said it's simply a good management practice to follow a business plan.

"The state of Alaska should be no different," said Lancaster, a former Soldotna mayor who was elected to the house in 2000 and is a member of the House Finance Committee.

Of the state's $7.4 billion budget, Lancaster said more than $4 billion comes from the federal government and another $2 billion comes from the general fund.

"The only part that the Legislature has an opportunity of making a change to is a little over $1 billion," he said. "The rest is formula- or statute-driven. We need to have a plan to grow this state, if in fact we want to grow this state."

Creating a working document that can change with the times and economy is the secret, according to Lancaster.

"People need to understand it's not written in stone."

Community leaders from the cities of Soldotna and Kenai, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and various area agencies, as well as members of the peninsula's legislative contingency have been invited to be on hand to answer questions.

"We're hearing 'You've got to cut government,'" Lancaster said. "But it's going to take myriad things and everybody's participation. I think it's time for Alaskans to step up to the plate."

Tuesday's town hall agenda includes:

Opening comments and introductions, 5:30 to 5:45 p.m.

Presentation by Persily, 5:45 to 6:15 p.m.

Presentation by McConnell, 6:15 to 6:30 p.m.

Public participation, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Each speaker will have five to seven minutes to speak, depending on the number of participants.

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