The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday approved increasing an assistant fire chief's pay by more than $8,000.
The pay boost for Kachemak Emergency Service Area's assistant chief comes nearly a year after the assembly voted against salary increases for several borough positions, including KESA's chief and assistant chief.
The issue resurfaced during discussions of Borough Mayor Dave Carey's proposed FY2011 budget. The assembly ultimately approved a pay increase for KESA's chief but rejected a pay increase for KESA's assistant chief.
In July, the KESA board asked the assembly to reconsider changes to the assistant chief's pay. On Tuesday night, the assembly did reconsider and unanimously approved the salary increase. KESA's assistant chief will earn about $65,970 beginning Nov. 1. His former salary is about $57,700.
The body's decision brings the KESA position's pay more in line with other area emergency personnel and matches salary with experience, according to the ordinance approving the pay hike.
The assistant chiefs at Central Emergency Services earn about $90,200 while Nikiski's assistant chiefs earn about $90,000 each.
Mako Haggerty, South Peninsula's representative, and Carey co-sponsored the ordinance enacted on Tuesday.
Steve Boyle, KESA's assistant chief, said he is "grateful" for the increased pay.
"The program is starting to grow and take off. When you're trying to get a fire department off the ground it presents a pretty significant workload," Boyle said on Wednesday.
The money for the pay increase comes from the service area's fund balance, according to the borough's finance director.
On Tuesday, the assembly also approved creating a health care task force meant to continue the dialogue over possible governance and ownership structure changes at Central Peninsula Hospital. The task force is an amended version of an idea originally presented by Carey.
The task force will bring eight relevant community members together to come up with a new ownership and governance structure recommendation. On Sept. 7, the assembly killed an ordinance that would have allowed the hospital's governing board to sign a letter of intent to partner with a for-profit firm, a partnership recommended by the hospital board.
The health care task force will include two assembly representatives, two hospital board representatives, two hospital service area representatives and two residents selected by the mayor.
Though the assembly supported the task force, the body opted not to appoint its two representatives immediately and will instead do so at the Nov. 9 meeting. Assemblyman Gary Knopp, who co-sponsored the health care task force resolution with Assemblyman Charlie Pierce, said the body delayed its appointments because three assembly members are interested in participating.
Tuesday marked the first day on the job for the assembly's three new members: Linda Murphy (Soldotna), Ray Tauriainen (Nikiski) and Brent Johnson (Kasilof).
The body selected Knopp, of Kalifornsky, to serve as president of the assembly and Pierce, of Sterling, to serve as vice president.
"It's an honor when your fellow assembly members will support you," Knopp said. "It's all about continuity and trying to move the people's business forward."
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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