The Kenai City Council rejected the only bid it received for maintenance at the city ice rink, saying it was far too costly.
The city had budgeted $40,000 a year for ice resurfacing and upkeep of the new refrigeration system, but the bid, from DR Ice was $85,000, or roughly $15,000 a month for the six-month season.
"I was really floored by this," said council member Joe Moore, the council's top hockey fan. "This is way too much money to pay for maintenance of the ice."
He also expressed shock that the Zamboni ice resurfacing vehicle the city bought from Phase 1 LLC needed as much work as DR Ice said it does.
"I thought we were buying a well-made machine," he said.
Council member Linda Swarner said she wanted the city's maintenance shop to inspect the Zamboni machine.
Council member Jim Bookey said he realized maintenance of the rink would be at a financial loss to the city, but he didn't think it would be an $85,000 loss.
"I'm usually dead against hiring more city employees, but this might be a case where we should," he said. "I don't want the city to take the easy way out and just write a check."
The cost was based on resurfacing the ice several times per 18-hour day, seven days a week.
Bookey said he had asked the city administration to come up with a list of alternatives for service contracts and was dismayed none were presented.
"What I would like the administration to do is bring back more options," he said. "I don't believe this (rink) needs Olympic ice."
In other council news from Wednesday's meeting:
n The Kenai coastal trail and sea wall was named the No. 1 capital improvement project in the city. The designation is for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities State Transpor-tation Improvement Program (STIP) list, which rates projects and designates time frames for funding and construction. The total cost of the project, which would stem erosion of the 90-foot bluff, is expected to be around $10 million.
n The city also designated its list of priorities for the state Capital Improvement Project (CIP) list for request of state grants. No. 1 is developing the city's fourth water well, at $1.4 million. No. 2 is construction of the coastal trail and sea wall, with a price tag of $9.9 million. No. 3 is $2 million for road improvements, and No. 4 is $900,000 for dipnet fishery projects such as paving the city dock area, building new launch ramps and a new access road to the dock. The CIP requests are basically the city's wish list to the state, and every item is not usually funded.
n The council voted 6-1 to approve two remodel and repair contracts that were on a sole-source basis to Alaska New Home Builders of Nikiski. Council member Pat Porter voted no, saying she preferred city business go to companies inside the city. The two contracts were for remodeling the downstairs portion of city hall where the Public Health Center was, and for repairs at the senior center. The city does not need to put out to bid contracts less than $10,000. Council member Duane Bannock said the combined value of the two contracts was close to the $10,000 figure and "dangerously close" to the appearance of wrong-doing. City Engineer Jack LaShot said Alaska New Home Builders has done excellent work for the city in the past.
n The council approved a $500 donation to the Alaska Junior Miss Scholarship Program to offset production costs. The event, featuring 18 contestants from around the state, will be held Saturday at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School. Kathy Gensel, the fund-raising chair for the organization, asked the council for $1,000 to help defray the $3,000 production cost. Moore suggested the $500 contribution and challenged the Soldotna City Council to match it.
n A change order in the amount of $28,188 for the airport fire station was approved. The additional appropriation will cover upgrading the garage doors on the under-construction building. It turns out the doors originally outlined in the bid did not meet building codes that require they be able to withstand 90 mph winds.
The Federal Aviation Admin-istration will pay for 93.7 percent of the newer doors, the same percentage it is paying for the building itself. The city will be responsible for the remaining 6.3 percent.
n The council withdrew a lot in Kaknu Korners from future sales. The city was asked to do so by neighbors who envision a small neighborhood park there. Debbie Sonberg thanked the council for its actions.
"This will allow us to work with Parks and Recreation to come up with a suitable park," she said.
Mayor John Williams suggested Sonberg and her neighbors put together a plan before budget discussions begin in late spring.
The city acquired the land through foreclosure, and since it is keeping it for public use, it will owe $1,450 in back taxes to the Kenai Peninsula Borough and to itself.
n The city approved a $12,000 expenditure for a water rate study. Public Works Director Keith Kornelis said the last study was done in 1975, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is asking the city to do a new one. A sewer rate study will be paid for by DEC, Kornelis said.
n A resolution passed unanimously requesting the state of Alaska and the Department of Fish and Game provide protection to the south shore at the mouth of the Kenai River during the annual dipnet fishery. Porter requested the resolution to mitigate the problems caused by vehicles driving on the vegetation and by lack of outhouses and garbage cans.
n The council approved new guidelines for placing memorials at Leif Hansen Memorial Park. It includes further development at the fountain to include red memorial bricks; the use of trees will be for memorializing individuals; rocks no larger than 4-feet square and that are indigenous to the area will be allowed only for memorializing large groups; and the development of a memorial wall, where plaques can be placed. There is a limit of seven places where rocks could be placed.
n The council also approved a resolution recommending a peak across the inlet be named after the patron saint of firefighters in honor of all fallen firefighters. Suggested by Kenai Fire Chief Scott Walden, an unnamed 4,070-foot peak, 8 miles east of Mount Redoubt. The proposed name is Mount St. Florian.
The borough assembly adopted a similar resolution on Oct. 23. The resolutions will be sent to the Alaska Historical Commission and the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.
n A sole-source contract in the amount of $14,765 was let to Office Products Services for software and training for a LaserFiche system, which would electronically store Kenai Police Department documents. It will replace a microfilm-based system in use since 1969.
n Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Kathy Tarr said goodbye to the council. Her last day running the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center will be Nov. 30. Tarr is leaving the bureau to return to college in Pittsburgh.
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