New mayor taking oath

Williams to be sworn in amid busy agenda

Posted: Monday, October 31, 2005

A new Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor is expected to take the oath of office Tuesday night at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, just before the assembly takes up a lengthy agenda that includes electing new assembly officers and accepting and spending several state grants.

Absentee and questioned ballots still are being counted and an official election tally won't be certified until Tuesday evening. But barring an unexpected reversal of the Oct. 24 runoff election, mayor-elect John Williams will be sworn in.

Williams, who defeated John Torgerson in the runoff, would assume the mayor's job Nov. 7.

The assembly also will choose a president and vice president to preside over legislative activities for the next year. Gary Superman, of Nikiski, has served as president for the past year. Ron Long, of Seward, has been vice president.

Newly elected assembly members Margaret Gilman, of Kenai, and Deb Germano, of Homer, will take their seats for their first assembly meeting. They, and returning member Grace Merkes, of Sterling, an incumbent who won re-election, were sworn in at the Oct. 11 meeting.

Several ordinances are up for public hearing and final action.

Ordinance 2005-19-28 would appropriate a $175,000 state grant for a community/youth center in the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area. The center occupies portions of the Nikiski Elementary School building, which is no longer used by the school district. The grant money, part of the 2006 fiscal year state capital budget, will purchase equipment for youth programs and make modifications to the existing space, according to Bonnie Golden, borough grants manager.

Ordinance 2005-19-29 would accept 15 state grants totaling $2.44 million for various schools maintenance projects.

Ordinance 2005-19-30 would appropriate a $175,750 Western States Wildland-Urban Interface Grant from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. The money will be used for wildfire protection planning.

Ordinance 2005-38 would amend the borough's Title 16 and authorize certain service area volunteers to serve on their respective service area boards. According to Borough Attorney Colette Thompson, because some service areas serve relatively few residents, finding volunteers willing to serve on their boards or to provide operating services has been difficult to find. Common law precludes people offering services to also be board members since they would then oversee their own activities.

An enacted ordinance could supercede common law in this case, Thompson said. The proposed ordinance would permit one service area board member to also provide services. Limiting the provision to one member only would minimize the danger of losing independent oversight, she said. The subject member would not be allowed to vote on board actions in which he or she might have a conflict of interest because of his or her capacity as a service provider.

Ordinance 2005-43 would delete a provision that now authorizes the borough mayor to vote on planning commission actions in case of a tie. The provision is no longer necessary and the measure is considered legislative housekeeping meant to bring the borough code into agreement with current law.

Ordinance 2005-13 would clarify conditions for material site permits. This measure has been under discussion since it was first introduced in March. It would make several changes in the permitting process, the most critical being shifting the burden of proof regarding alleged damages to aquifers. Currently, neighbors must complain after the fact and show that a gravel pit or other permitted material site has damaged an aquifer. The ordinance would require that gravel-pit permit applicants demonstrate that their pit would not cause such damage before being granted a permit. A decision on the controversial ordinance has been put off several times.

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