Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey reported to the city council Wednesday night that the 2006 Arctic Winter Games organizers are facing a “current gap” of $650,000 to $800,000 needed to put on the Games on the Kenai Peninsula in March.
In his mayor’s report, Carey said Games organizers could possibly make an additional $380,000 in budget cuts toward balancing the budget, but some of the items cut could impact grant revenues if the items were conditions of receiving the grants.
“Where we stand, at least on paper, is the Arctic Winter Games has a deficit of $750,000,” Carey said.
Games officials are expected to ask Gov. Frank Murkowski for a $750,000 to $800,000 bailout from state coffers, he said.
Council member Jane Stein told the council some of the anticipated revenue from the Games, such as event ticket sales money, would not be available until after the completion of the Games.
“What exactly did we sign as far as (the city’s) liability if there is a deficit after the Games?” asked council member Sharon Moock.
City Manager Tom Boedeker said the city would not be liable for any deficit.
“We undertook no responsibility for financial obligations,” he said.
Boedeker also said a number of people calling in to a local radio program this week were of the opinion Kenai Peninsula cities would be obligated to make up any financial shortages, but he said that is not true.
Boedeker said he would be willing to meet with the city’s legal counsel again to review the agreement signed with AWG organizers.
“We did put in the new a scoreboard and sign (at the Soldotna Sports Center) for the Games, and we expect to be reimbursed for those items,” he said.
“We’ll be watching closely to see that we are reimbursed,” Boedeker said.
Council member Lisa Parker also said she is “concerned about the finances of the Arctic Winter Games and their ability to put them on.”
Parker said she is concerned about the extra workload the Games will place on the Soldotna Police Department.
In other business, the council unanimously approved raising the city’s open market purchase limit from $1,000 to $10,000 for small items without requiring the competitive bidding process.
The approved ordinance also permits the city manager to waive compliance with procurement procedures in the event of an extreme emergency or disaster for purchasing goods or services in an amount up to $100,000.
The city council scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 14 on an ordinance reappropriating $19,750 from the airport capital improvements fund and appropriating a $375,250 federal grant for building a turf runway at Soldotna Municipal Airport.
The council also took action on a plan to change how halibut fishing is regulated.
Saying a proposal to integrate the sport halibut charter fishery into the existing commercial individual fishing quota (IFQ) system “is not necessarily the best way to go about regulating the Pacific halibut fishery,” the council passed a resolution opposing the plan.
The resolution states the proposed rule transfers ownership of a resource to the private sector that traditionally belonged to the public and would reduce the number of charter operations on the peninsula, in turn reducing tourism revenue and taxable earnings.
Boedeker said a number of other communities passed similar resolutions.
Council member Jim Stogsdill said the city should be sure to send a record of the council’s action to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the governor and the state Legislature.
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