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Road board pushes RIAD change

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2008

The Road Service Area Board has recommended expanding the reach of the Kenai Peninsula Borough's road improvement assessment district process to include construction of new roads.

The current RIAD program provides property owners along existing but poorly built roads a way to bring them up to borough maintenance standards, and makes matching funds available for those projects.

At its upcoming Nov. 18 meeting, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will introduce Ordinance 2008-35, which would amend borough code to broaden the program to include new roads, but limit the use of matching funds to improving only existing roads.

In addition, the measure would dump the current $1,000, non-refundable filing engineering fee by creating a sliding scale based on the value of property subject to assessment. Road board officials said the current flat rate does not cover the real costs associated with engineering estimates.

Under the proposed fee schedule, filing fees would start from a low of $1,000 for properties assessed at $2 million or less, with the fee rising by $400 increments as assessed values reached into the next million-dollar range. That is, a fee of $1,400 would be required for assessed values between $3 million and $4 million, $1,800 for assessed values between $4 million and $5 million, and so on.

Restricting borough matching money to improving existing roads would leave the code consistent with the Road Service Area's road improvement priorities. It would also ensure that private developers did not use borough funds for private economic gain, the borough said.

Another amendment would set the upper limit on assessments against property value in the case of new road construction.

Under the proposed terms, an assessment against a parcel could not exceed 40 percent of the parcel's value.

The code already includes such assessment limits for gravel road improvements, 21 percent, and paving improvements, 25 percent.

A proposed restriction would prevent a new road special assessment district from forming if one owner owned more than 40 percent of the parcels that would benefit.

Assemblyman Gary Knopp, of Kalifornsky, said he had yet to study what was being proposed, but was keeping an open mind.

"I have heard of some of these changes. I'm skeptical, so to speak, because I don't know the details yet."

He said he thought the proposal to open the RIAD process to new roads might favor developers over individual property owners and would be looking for assurances that wouldn't be the case.

"It needs to benefit the majority, not just one or two," he said.

As for the proposed engineering fee increases, Knopp said the borough needs to charge what is appropriate and shouldn't be losing money on each RIAD.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.



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