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Transfer station to go to voters?

Posted: Thursday, December 09, 2010

Kenai Peninsula voters might have the chance to decide if they want to pay for a solid waste transfer station in Homer in the next election.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey said a bond issue might have to be considered to pay for the conversion of the near-capacity Homer landfill to a transfer station.

"Are the voters of this borough open to a fund issue on solid waste?" Carey asked at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting Tuesday night.

Opened in 1979, the Homer landfill was only expected to operate as a dump for a few decades.

"For the last five years it has been the intent that it would be closed out in 2012," Carey said. "We've known that that's been coming."

He said the borough's plan has always been for the landfill to become a transfer site for waste that will be trucked to the Central Peninsula Landfill in Soldotna.

"Depending on exactly how large of a transfer site we might have the total cost of $12 million," he said.

That number includes some $2 million in road improvements to allow for trucks to come in and out of the station easily, like widening the road and adding a horseshoe-shaped turnaround.

However, those improvements are not absolutely a necessity. If the borough is lacking funds it could take those improvements out to get the price tag down to $10 million, he said.

"We are very hopeful that we can get funds from the state to help with the road and other aspects of the landfill," he said.

Carey said borough administration will be taking a trip to Juneau in February to lobby the Legislature about the issue.

"I will propose this as our number one state priority," Carey said. "We're going to be lobbying very hard for assistance from the state for this project."

"We're moving ahead now to get the funds to do all the initial engineering and design on the project," he added.

There is also the possibility of the borough using part of its $19 million fund balance to help pay for the transfer station, he said.

But, Carey said, that fund should not really dip below $12 million and the assembly could choose to fund the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District with some of the fund balance, like it did last budget cycle.

"Education is our number one priority and solid waste, spending-wise, is our number two," he said.

His plan is to have all the hard numbers on the transfer site conversion by February so it can factor into fiscal year 2012 budget talks. He said he is not planning on increasing any borough taxes for the budget next year.

"Do we do a bond issue next October?" Carey asked. "Or do we want to use a significant amount of our money from our fund balance?"

But that's ultimately a question that's up to the assembly to decide.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.



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