Assembly gets it done

With no public testimony, meeting wraps up early

Posted: Thursday, November 23, 2006

A long list of ordinances requiring public hearings did little to delay the quick end to Tuesday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting.

The local lawmakers were finished before 9 p.m., largely because none of the hearings drew testimony from the audience, mostly composed of high school students obliged to attend for a class assignment. They got to witness the ease and speed with which non-controversial measures may breeze through final legislative processes toward passage.

On many Tuesdays, the assembly pushes the legal meeting-length limit of midnight, which requires agreeing earlier to extend beyond the normal 11:30 p.m. deadline.

As the meeting ended this week, Assembly President Ron Long, of Seward, thanked the students for sitting through the entire meeting, noting that had it been a typical gathering, the assembly would likely have taken a break giving them “a graceful opportunity to leave.” That drew chuckles from the students.

While there was little debate over the measures adopted Tuesday, they were nevertheless important, some involving expenditures necessary for carrying on services. Most were passed unanimously.

Ordinance 2006-19-26 spends $160,000 of interest income from bond proceeds to buy a loader and additions to a compactor, estimated to cost $100,000. The other $60,000 will be used to complete work at the landfill’s new cell.

Ordinance 2006-19-28 approves using $117,500 in school bond interest income for school capital improvement projects, specifically expenses associated with the school water quality/arsenic removal program incurred prior to June 1, 2006.

The Bear Creek Fire Service Area gets a $75,000 state grant through Ordinance 2006-19-29 to help pay for a new water tanker truck. However, purchasing a new tanker, estimated to cost about $275,000, was dependent on a federal grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. That money was not authorized this year, and the fire department may opt to use the money for spare parts.

Ordinance 2006-19-27 accepted and appropriated a $3,154 state grant to complete the update of the borough’s Coastal Management Plan.

Ordinance 2006-19-30 accepted and appropriated a state grant of $30,000 for fire station improvements for the Lowell Point Emergency Service Area.

Ordinance 2006-19-32 spends a $65,000 state grant for the Diamond Ridge Safety Trail and authorizes a sole-source agreement with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, which will conduct a survey of prescriptive rights along Diamond Ridge Road. A trail for non-motorized vehicles along the stretch is considered necessary for safety reasons.

Other ordinances passed Tuesday included:

· Ordinance 2006-19-33, providing $30,000 in supplemental service area funding for operations of the Nikiski Senior Center;

· Ordinance 2006-36, amending the borough code regarding plat waivers;

· Ordinance 2006-37, extending the sunset date of and ordinance that last year created an appointed Board of Equalization rather than having the assembly sit as the panel. The new sunset date is Dec. 31, 2008. The assembly had considered eliminating the original sunset date, Dec. 31 of this year, altogether, but members said and extension was more appropriate to give the new appointed board idea time to prove out.

· Ordinance 2006-38 that exempts the city of Seward from borough code provisions governing special assessments for the purpose of creating the proposed Elhard Electrical Improvement District.

The assembly also authorized Resolution 2006-096, a measure authorizing the borough to issue general obligation refunding bonds of up to $3,425,000. The money will be used to pay off bonds issued in 2003 for South Peninsula Hospital construction work. A reduction in long-term interest rates justifies refinancing some of the outstanding bonds, thus saving service area residents about $108,000 in interest payments over the life of the debt, according to Finance Director Craig Chapman. Voter approval is not required for refunding bonds, he said.

Hal Spence can be reached at

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