Assembly to elect new VP, president

Posted: Monday, October 22, 2001

With municipal elections in the past, the nine-member Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly moves to the next step Tuesday and elects a new president and vice president.

Tim Navarre of Kenai currently serves as president and Pete Sprague of Soldotna is vice president. As directed by borough code, president and vice president are selected by a majority vote.

Approving grant agreements with the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council and Central Area Rural Transit Systems Inc. are part of Mayor Dale Bagley's report to the assembly.

KPTMC's agreement totals $120,000, which is for two-thirds of the organization's actual expenditures, with $20,000 designated to promote such off-season events as Seward's holiday train and Polar Bear Jump-Off, the Peninsula Winter Games, the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race, the Anchor Point Snow Rendezvous and Homer's Winter Carnival and King Salmon Derby.

The borough's $50,000 financial support for CARTS is earmarked specifically for "planning, developing and implementing a public transportation system within the Kenai Peninsula Borough," according to the agreement.

Bagley and assembly member Milli Martin of Homer are requesting the assembly's official acceptance of $182,245 for the 1-year-old Kachemak Emergency Service Area. With $159,556 from the Federal Emergency Management Area, a required $17,729 match, and a $4,960 Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, KESA will have money in its pocket for a pumper truck and fire-fighting equipment.

"This is wonderful," Martin said of the grant awards. "It's the recognition of our needs down here."

The importance for increased fire protection was underlined by Martin's recent tour of Homer's outlying areas.

"The more we can do to help ourselves, the better off we'll be," she said.

Bill Popp, who represents portions of Kenai, has his eye on an ordinance from Bagley's office to revise the decertification procedures for road maintenance.

"The purpose of this was to get rid of some rights of way that were basically more of a liability to the borough," Popp said, referring to some located in stream beds and others that "hang off in space."

"The problem was if someone got hurt, the borough would be liable," Popp said.

However, decertification is "a risky thing" in that it disavows the borough's responsibility for anything that goes on in that right of way, including construction, repair and general maintenance, Popp said, adding he was concerned the move might inadvertently cut off necessary maintenance.

Right of way along the state's Sterling Highway as it winds through the city of Soldotna also is on Tuesday's agenda. Specifically, Sprague is asking the the assembly to support the city's request to meet with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to resolve signage permitting issues.

Support for the Sterling Senior Center's effort to construct senior housing is being requested by assembly member Grace Merkes of Sterling. According to borough economist Jeanne Camp, Sterling residents 65 and older number 314, or 6.7 percent of Sterling's 4,705 population.

Relieving the assembly from a code requirement to serve as the board of adjustment is the goal of an ordinance Sprague is set to introduce Tuesday night. The board is responsible for hearing appeals relating to planning, platting and land-use matters.

"This is a quasi-judicial responsibility," Sprague wrote in the accompanying memo. "Deci-sions rendered must, of course, be made impartially. Thus, ex parte communication is prohibited."

Sprague said this results in awkward situations for assembly members trying to help constituents. Instead, he suggested following the Matanuska-Susitna Borough's practice of appointing members of the public to serve on the board.

"I have a real problem if the assembly is taken completely out of this function," Popp said.

Sprague said he anticipates the ordinance will spark "some lively discussion" at the assembly meeting.

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