Health clinic, hospital finances center stage in boundary debate

  • Map by Kenai Peninsula Borough This map shows the proposed boundary change of the Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area from the Clam Gulch Tower north to Oil Well Road south.

For the third time in four years, the community of Ninilchik is the center of a debate about who in the Kenai Peninsula Borough should pay taxes to which of its two hospital.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly was set to consider an ordinance at its Tuesday, May 1 meeting that would move the common boundary between the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area and South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area to the south, moving some of the residents of Ninilchik and the surrounding area into the northern service area, pending voter approval.

In its present form, the line would move south to approximately the landfill transfer station near Ninilchik. At the meeting, the assembly voted to postpone voting on the ordinance.

The main contention is over property taxes. Residents of Central Peninsula Hospital’s service area pay a nominal mill rate — .01 mills, or $1 per every $100,000 in property value. South Peninsula Hospital service area residents pay 2.3 mills, or $230 on every $100,000 in property value. If the assembly approves the ordinance, voters in the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area and those in the area that would become part of it would vote on it in the October election.

Residents in the area proposed to switch into CPH’s service area would not see their property taxes derop all the way to .01 mills immediately — they are still obligated for the bonds at South Peninsula Hospital for some years — but they would be reduced.

Opponents’ main concern is for the future of South Peninsula Hospital. Proponents call it an issue of fairness, as many of the people who live on the north side of Ninilchik use Central Peninsula Hospital but pay taxes to South Peninsula Hospital’s service area.

At a public hearing on the ordinance Thursday in Ninilchik, opinions fell all over the board, from support to opposition to mixed feelings.

“Really, the issue is about taxation without representation,” said Ninilchik resident Kathy Wallace.

Read the rest of this Peninsula Clarion story by clicking here.

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