Kenai Peninsula Borough voters gave a thumbs-up to an increased residential property tax exemption and a school bond to pay for school capital projects, including a new turf field for Homer High School.
They gave a thumbs-down to repealing the two-term limit for borough assembly members.
“The propositions went kind of the way I thought they’d go,” said Borough Mayor Mike Navarre.
Unofficial results late Tuesday night showed Proposition 1, increasing the $20,000 residential property tax exemption to $50,000 passed with 4,552, or 63.75 percent, votes; 2,588 voters, or 36.25 percent, opposed the increase.
James Price of Nikiski, a moving force in getting the proposition on the ballot, said he was happy with the results, but “actually hoped that we would have got even more than we received.”
Bill Smith, who represents Homer on the borough assembly, said he wasn’t surprised by the vote, but worried about the resulting loss of revenue for the borough’s service areas.
“Most service areas will have to look at a mill rate increase,” he said. “We’re talking about fire departments, emergency service areas and hospitals. They’ll have some significant challenges.”
Proposition 2, asking voters if the borough shall borrow up to $22,987,000 through the issuance of general obligation bonds, received 3,939, or 56.75 percent, yes votes and 3,022 or 43.25 percent, no votes. The bond would pay for capital improvements projects to be done over a three-year period and would include numerous roof replacements and a new Homer High School turf field. All the projects have been approved for the state’s 70 percent reimbursement program.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Homer High Principal Doug Waclawski. “I’ve heard nobody who was upset with it or campaigned against it, so I was reasonably hopeful and am happy it passed.”
Josh Fraley, the school’s head football coach, said the new field will “save a lot of money, time and is going to be a lot safer. Not just for football, but for the high school soccer team, cross country, everybody in the community. Thank the voters for taking care of the kids and taking care of the facilities.”
Proposition 3 was divided into two parts. The first question asked voters if they wanted to repeal the current two-term limit for borough assembly members. The second part asked if voters wanted to extend the current two-term limit to three terms.
Voters said no to both questions.
Part A received 4,967, or 71.40 percent, no votes and 1,990, or 28.60 percent, yes votes. In similar fashion, Part B received 4,913, or 71.35 percent, no votes and 1,973, or 28.65 percent, yes votes.
“That’s not a big surprise,” said Smith. “I think generally people are inclined to think that term limits are a good thing.”
Mako Haggerty, who represents areas of the southern peninsula on the assembly, said he was “kind of expecting” that vote.
“People are really tired of politics as usual and their impression is that once someone gets elected and is in office, you just can’t seem to get rid of them,” he said.
Haggerty has a different perspective, however.
“I think it’s voters’ responsibility to pay attention to what’s happening,” said Haggerty. “It’s as important to fire someone as it is to hire someone. We lose a little something when we can’t send that message. I understand why people want term limits, but it’s a sense of powerlessness on the part of the voter.”
Incumbent Sunni Hilts was the only candidate for School Board, District 9, an area that stretches from Anchor Point to the head of Kachemak Bay to the south side of the bay and encompasses Chapman School in Anchor Point, Kachemak Selo School, McNeil Canyon Elementary School, Nanwalek School, Port Graham School, Razdolna School, Susan B. English School in Seldovia and Voznesenka School.
Hilts received 485 votes, or 95.47 percent.
“Oh nice,” said Hilts, upon hearing the number of votes cast for her.
For the past year, Hilts has served as president-elect of the Association of Alaska School Boards and will become president of the association the first week of November.
In the service area board elections for the southern peninsula, with only one candidate for each seat, the following results were reported:
• Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Service Area, Seat B: Robert W. Craig, 215 or 94.71 percent of the vote;
• Kachemak Emergency Service Area Board, Seat B: Ralph E. Crane, 295 or 98.66 percent of the vote;
• Kachemak Emergency Service Area Board, Seat C: Mike Petersen, 293 or 99.32 percent of the vote;
• Kachemak Emergency Service Area Board, Seat D: Joseph E. “Jeff” Middleton, 367 or 98.66 percent of the vote;
• Kachemak Emergency Service Area Board, Seat E: Matthew Schneyer, 288 or 98.97 percent of the vote;
• Seldovia Recreational Service Area Board, Seat A: Mark D. Janes, 57 or 98.28 percent of the vote;
• Seldovia Recreational Service Area Board, Seat D: Vivian M. Rojas, 57 or 96.61 percent of the vote;
• South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board, Seat C: Barbara McBride, 1,511 or 98.63 percent of the vote;
• South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board, Seat G: Clyde T. Boyer Jr., 1,283 or 98.69 percent
• South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board, Seat H: Doris I. Cabana, 1,343 or 97.96 percent of the vote; and
• South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board, Seat I: Ralph E. Broches, 1,469 or 98.72 percent of the vote.