18 March 2014 Borough Assembly Meeting Report
By Sue McClure –
March is one of four months each year that the Assembly meets only one time, rather than two. Our committee meetings (which are open to the public) began at 3 PM, during which we may ask questions of the administration or sponsors of legislation, prior to the regular meeting. If you are hearing our meetings on the radio and it seems that we don’t discuss much or ask many questions, it is because of our committee structure. One interesting item from the Policies and Procedures meeting was the report from our deputy clerk that 633 boxes, or 10,017 pounds of obsolete records was shredded and recycled in 2013.
At our regular 6 PM meeting, Mayor Navarre reported that he has been in dialog with the legislature regarding the potential PERS unfunded liability partial pay-down, has been meeting with other mayors regarding the LNG project with respect to local governments, and has met with DOT regarding the re-scoping of the North Road extension. He is waiting on the state’s decisions on school funding and other factors before deciding the means of offsetting the effects of the property tax exemption increase on our budget. We also heard quarterly reports from both the Kenai Peninsula School District’s Dr. Atwater and from South Peninsula Hospital. Dr. Atwater reported that new State-mandated teacher evaluation procedures would be instituted by July of 2015, which will include student learning data in the evaluations. He spoke to the financial concerns of the district, their projected $4.5 million budget gap, and potentially how to solve it. The borough currently funds about 30% of the school district’s expenses, and the state about 65.5%. He also reported a rise in health care costs of 40% in the past 4 years.
We had five ordinances up for public hearing. Three passed unanimously without comment. Ordinance 2014-09, which would allow borough employees to run for service area boards as long as they are not incompatible, passed 6-2 (Mr. Ogle and Mr. Wolf voted against), after being amended to list the conditions of incompatibility. The ordinance, which resulted in over an hour of public testimony, Ordinance 2014-10, was finally adopted unanimously. This authorizes the sale at less than market value of 77 acres of borough land to the Snowshoe Gun Club in Kenai. This land is to extend the range, and is mostly wet and unusable for building. Prior to the public hearing, a resolution reclassifying that and surrounding land as recreational was passed on the consent agenda.
Other resolutions were passed on the consent agenda, including one approving the twenty-seven unincorporated communities that will be eligible for state revenue sharing funding for 2015. In our area, these include Lowell Point, Bear Creek, Cooper Landing, Crown Point, Moose Pass, Primrose, and Hope. Also part of Sterling is in District 6. I meet each fall with all of these communities concerning use of these funds.
Resolution 2014-020, sponsored by Mr. Wolf, was taken from the consent agenda, received public testimony and much discussion, was amended and finally passed with a vote of 7-1. This supports the borough’s military veterans.
Our next meeting will be at 6 PM April 1st. We have three ordinances scheduled for public hearing, including one appropriating nearly $35 million in revenue bond proceeds for building the specialty clinic building for Central Peninsula Hospital. Ordinance 2014-11, sponsored by Mr. Johnson, would amend code to change the compensation for borough assembly members. As always, meeting information may be found on the borough website www.borough.kenai.ak.us. I can be reached at 224-6784 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Seward Annex and the Seward Bear Creek Flood offices, both in the SeaView Plaza, are good sources of information as well. Assembly agendas are posted, among other places, in City Hall and at the Seward Post Office, beginning the week before each meeting.