Dipnet discussion planned: Council schedules public work session to dissect report

Posted: Friday, December 17, 2010

The Kenai City Council postponed discussion of the 2010 dipnet report until a work session in February.

Clarion File Photo
Clarion File Photo
Dipnet fishermen jockey for position on the south bank of the Kenai River during the July personal-use fishery. The Kenai City Council has scheduled a worksession to discuss the fishery.

According to the report, dipnet expenditures were $340,811.42, while revenues to the city were $443,955. Most of the financial transactions were during the fishery's opening from July 10 to 31, when Alaskans from around the state lined the sides of the river (and boated out into the harbor) to fish.

Before the dipnetting season began, the city spent money on a number of capital improvements. During the season, it paid for the increase in services required by the temporary population spike: police officers working near the waterfront, beach clean-up, Dumpster pick-up, employee time spent handling cash from dipnetters, and similar costs. The city's revenue came from two sources: the dipnetters themselves (in the form of parking and boat launch fees) and the state. The state money was a grant meant for access and habitat restoration, said City Manager Rick Koch.

The revenue distribution might look different next year. Koch said that the fishery did not make it into Gov. Sean Parnell's budget for next year, but the city would explore other funding, including working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation on some beach issues.

The report also included recommendations for next year.

At the meeting, Kenaitze Indian Tribe representative Liisia Blizzard talked about the conflicts that arise between the tribe's educational fishery and the nearby personal-use fishery and the tribe's suggestions for making the fisheries run more smoothly. Koch said that jurisdictional issues are a problem because the city can't respond to their calls (they're outside of city limits) without a specific request from the Alaska State Troopers.

Mayor Pat Porter said she and Koch had met with representatives of the tribe about their concerns and hoped the city and tribe would be able to work together in the future. Because of the meeting's timing, Koch said those recommendations didn't make it into the report. Council member Joe Moore suggested the tribe be invited to the work session.

At the council meeting on Wednesday, Koch said the city usually has a work session so that the public has plenty of opportunity to weigh in. Council members supported continuing that process.

The work session is scheduled for Feb. 15 at 6 p.m.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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