By Rick Smeriglio for SCN – At its regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 2, Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area Board again voiced support for a 50 percent increase in the tax mil rate as a special assessment on property within the service area. Currently set at 0.5 mils, the proposed increase would hike it to 0.75 mils. Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly sets the rate. The Assembly has the proposed increase on it consent agenda, meaning that if no assembly member objects, and moves to remove the item, then the increase will pass. Sue McClure, Seward’s member of the KPB Assembly, explained that the increase could pass right away. She told the Board that most people in Seward don’t see the need for the increase. When asked by SCN, McClure said that she maintained neutrality regarding the proposed increase.
SBCFSA Board Chair Bill Williamson said that the Board has asked for several years to raise the mil rate. He explained that grant funds from the State or Borough came with restrictions that prevented their use for SBCFSA operations. He stressed the need for operational flexibility to meet contractual obligations. Board Vice-Chair Randy Stauffer said that SBCFSA had recommended higher increases because it did not want to keep going back to the Borough for additional funds. The Board advises the Borough about flood control needs and implements flood control projects involving culverts, levees, gravel extraction and the like.
Board member Bob Reisner said, “My fear is that we’ll be upside down without some kind of increase to the point where we won’t be able to operate.”
Board member Karl Van Buskirk said that he has heard from only one person in favor of the increase. He said that he favored leaving the rate at 0.5 because of lack of public support, his sole objection.
After the meeting, Williamson alluded to $70 million worth of potential flood-control projects in the service area which extends from the inlet of Bear Lake to well south of Lowell Point and includes lower Resurrection River and its tributaries.