Greg Skinner

House Bill 77 draws crowds in opposition

The sometimes polarized communities of the Kenai Peninsula came together this week to oppose House Bill 77.

During a hearing in Soldotna on Monday, without exception, the public expressed displeasure for two portions of HB77: the removal of public input on permits and the loss of personal access to water reservation.

In another hearing Tuesday night at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer, it was more of the same. A standing-room-only crowd of 110 people showed overwhelming opposition to the bill, with only one man, a shellfish farmer, expressing support.

Borough 911 dispatch reorganization on hold

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly last week stalled plans to combine 911 dispatch services by moving current state employees to the borough payroll.

Citing a change in leadership earlier this month at the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Kenai Peninsula Mayor Mike Navarre asked the assembly to table plans to support an ordinance that authorized combining dispatchers working in the Soldotna Public Safety Communications Center in an effort to save an estimated $100,000 annually caused by conflicting employee contracts.

Murphy is out, Johnson stays

One incumbent lost, another kept his seat and the one open seat went to the less conservative candidate of the two running for office.

In District 7, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Brent Johnson fended off two challengers in Central Kenai Peninsula to retain his seat.

Looking to oust the first-term assembly member and commercial fisherman Johnson were Travis Swanson and Damon Yerly.

Changes at 911-call center could save money

The Kenai Peninsula Borough last week introduced an ordinance to increase the number of its employees in the 911-call center as a way to save money.

The move, once negotiations with the state are complete, would allow the borough to take up to eight employees — six dispatchers and two supervisors — from state employment and move them into borough employment at the Soldotna Public Safety Communications Center. Currently, employees in the center are a mix of state and borough workers.

Borough term limits on ballot for fourth time

Kenai Peninsula Borough voters will, for a fourth time, have a chance on the fall ballot to decide in a yes or no vote to repeal term limits. 

A second ballot question, asking voters if the limit should be increased from two to three terms, becomes relevant only if the voters do not repeal the limits.

For a third session, the assembly last week entangled itself in a publicly unpopular attempt to overturn voter imposed term limits on their offices. 

State issues permit for Nikiski oil-waste site

The State of Alaska last week approved a permit to allow a Texas-based waste disposal company to store up to 10 million gallons of petroleum drilling waste at a 1.5-acre site in Nikiski’s industrial area.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation permit allows AIMM Technologies Inc. to construct and operate a monofill storage site for drilling waste, produced by the nearby oil and gas industry, at the end of Halliburton Drive.

Assembly delays action on ordinance that would overturn term limits

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on July 2 delayed action on two items in order to rethink its actions before going forward.

The assembly put off voting on an ordinance seeking to overturn term limits imposed by a citizen initiative and moved to reopen public comment on a resolution calling for a public advisory vote on continued borough financial support for public transportation.

Investigation into Soldotna crash begins

In stark contrast to the scores who witnessed a 777 crash that killed two in San Francisco the day before, no one saw the crash of a nine-passenger charter plane that killed 10 people in Soldotna Sunday.

All that was known about the crash, as of Monday night, was that the pilot was not able to keep the charter plane airborne and in control, said NTSB board member Earl F. Weener.

“Obviously, it got airborne,” he said during a press conference at the airport, responding to conflicting local accounts of the crash.

Assembly OKs salmon habitat protections

Two attempts to derail the inevitable and affirmative vote for borough-wide riparian regulations were thwarted last week as the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted 6 -3 to enact the broader protective regulations over local waters.

With the vote, the assembly largely agreed that some form of proactive protection of salmon rearing waters was needed now, while most of the runs are still healthy. 

Term limits back on table

With many among them up for a third or fourth re-election in 2014 and 2015, members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough 

Assembly are looking to remove citizen-created term limits from borough law this summer.

The assembly Tuesday floated a proposed ordinance seeking to amend a 2007 citizen initiative limiting them to two consecutive terms without taking a six-month break before a third.

Assembly members voted to hold a public hearing on the ordinance and set it for July 2. 

Assembly passes 2014 budget, property taxes static

With little fan fair the Kenai Borough Assembly on Tuesday passed the 2014 budget by unanimous consent, sending $73 million into the collective checkbook for the next fiscal year beginning July1.

Very little conversation was had on the so-called "status quo budget" beyond a last-minute moving of money into and then back out of the funds allotted to the Kenai Peninsula Development District.

"The mayor promised status quo and brought it," said District 8 Assemblyman Bill Smith.

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