Assembly prepares for eventful meeting

Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2003

It could be a long night.

A multitude of ordinances are up for public hearing at tonight's meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, as members will consider such diverse subjects as buying a $14,000 defibrillator for Anchor Point emergency volunteers to approving purchase of a $1.3 million magnetic resonance imaging system for Central Peninsula General Hospital.

In all, some 13 ordinances are on the agenda for public testimony, not to mention several more ordinances up for introduction and assorted resolutions that appear on the consent agenda.

Of the ordinances, the legislative tools for spending money, Ordinance 2003-19-23 proposes the greatest expense. The $1.3 million MRI for the hospital will replace an older model purchased only five years ago. Hospital officials said the machines, which allow physicians to see detailed pictures of a patient's insides without the need for surgery, typically have a useful life of about five to seven years before advances in technology reach a point where they should be replaced.

The hospital was considering purchase of a new MRI within a couple of years, but when a $300,000 grant became available through the Denali Commission, hospital officials decided to move the purchase date forward to take advantage of the opportunity.

The assembly is expected to approve the expenditure.

Ordinance 2003-19-19 would appropriate $14,000 from the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area's capital project fund to by a new Lifepack 12 defibrillator. The service area's existing defib unit is outdated and in constant need of repair, according to Craig Chapman, acting borough finance director.

"It has failed its last three inspections resulting in the service area using a loaner model while the service area's model is being repaired," Chapman told the assembly in an Oct. 2 memo. "The lack of a working defibrillator is a health and safety issue."

South Peninsula Hospital is in need of additional space for clinical services offices and Ordinance 2003-19-20 would authorize spending $182,600 for a residential home and other improvements on approximately .24 acres adjacent to the hospital. This ordinance also is up for public hearing.

The hospital proposes to move the offices of its accounting and education departments to the lot's house and garage, thus freeing up space for clinical services.

Also affecting South Peninsula Hospital is Ordinance 2003-19-24, which appropriates a Denali Commission grant of $250,000 for purchase of a bulk oxygen generating system. The system will meet current and future medical needs over the next 20 years and eliminate dependence on a trucked-in oxygen supply.

The new system will require construction of a larger room, which could be completed as part of the hospital's Phase II expansion, remodel and renovation project, according to borough Grants Manager Bonnie Golden.

Two other ordinances set for public hearing involve funding for emergency planning, training and equipment.

Ordinance 2003-19-21 would accept and appropriate a $17,900 grant from the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Division of Emergency Services, to continue the work of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Local Emergency Planning Committee. The money would be used for core activities, including support services, supplies, capital equipment purchases and contractual services.

Ordinance 2003-19-22 would accept and appropriate a $58,277 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will pay for training and equipment for the Bear Creek Fire Service Area. The bulk of the funds, $49,367, will cover equipment; the rest will be used to pay for training.

The service area would purchase 12 self-contained breathing apparatuses and 24 spare cylinders. Training would be for Firefighter 1 certification, according to Mark Beals, fire chief for the Bear Creek department.

Other ordinances up for public hearing include:

Ordinance 2003-28, authorizing sale of six acres in the Beluga area to Unocal.

Ordinance 2003-36, amending the borough code to provide separate agenda headings for scheduled presentations and unscheduled public comment on nonagenda items.

Ordinance 2003-39, amending the borough code covering conflicts of interest.

Ordinance 2003-40, incorporating the 2003 Kenai Peninsula Borough Transportation Plan into the Kenai Peninsula Borough Comprehensive Plan.

Ordinance 2003-41, authorizing sale of a 23.3 acre parcel in the Cooper Landing area to the Cooper Landing Senior Citizen Corporation at less than market value.

The assembly also is expected to decide Tuesday during a special meeting at 10 a.m. whether to contract with Kachemak Bay Broadcasting Inc. for radio broadcast of assembly meetings starting in January. The current contractor has filed an appeal of Resolution 2003-115.

Up for introduction are three more funding measures.

Ordinance 2003-19-26 would appropriate a $30,00 grant from the Alaska Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services for preparing the borough's All-Hazard Mitigation Plan. A hearing is set for Dec. 16.

Ordinance 2003-19-27 would appropriate a $206,485 grant from the division of homeland security for emergency first-responder equipment and training exercises. A hearing is set for Dec. 16.

Ordinance 2003-19-28 would appropriate $1.5 million for preliminary design work on the Central Peninsula Hospital expansion project. A hearing is set for Dec. 16.

Another ordinance up for introduction would provide for a flat tax for aircraft. Currently, aircraft are subject to an ad valorem (based on value) tax, that is, they are taxed as personal property. Ordinance 2003-45, up for public hearings on Dec. 16 and Jan. 6, would exempt planes from the ad valorem tax and impose a flat $75 per plane per year.

Assembly member Chris Moss of Homer said the ordinance would bring aircraft in line with watercraft and motor vehicles, both classes of vehicles exempt from the ad valorem tax and subject to a flat tax.

Personal property enjoys an exemption from the ad valorem tax on the first $100,000 of total value. Items subject to the flat tax are not exempted.

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