Story last updated at 2:03 p.m. Thursday, May 9, 2002

Assembly property tax cut remains alive
by Hal Spence
Morris News Service-Alaska

Operating the Kenai Peninsula Borough will cost approximately $52.2 million next year, including nearly $30.1 million for borough schools and $11.7 million for day-to-day duties of the various borough departments.

Those figures are included in Ordinance 2002-19, next year's borough budget plan, introduced Tuesday at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting in Seward.

A proposed half-mill cut in borough property taxes remains on the table. It would shave the rate to $6.50 per thousand dollars of assessed property value, and save the owner of a $100,000 home $50 a year in property taxes.

Public hearings on the 2003 spending plan are scheduled for May 21 and June 4.

The proposed budget also would appropriate $242,550 to the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area, $337,780 to the Kachemak Emergency Service Area as well as an additional $30,000 in capital project funds, $2.9 million to the borough road service area, and $2.6 million to South Peninsula Hospital.

Another ordinance passed by the Assembly appropriates additional funding needed by Kachemak Emergency Service Area to purchase a Class A pumper truck. Last year, the Assembly approved spending $177,285 on the vehicle, but bids came in much higher. The lowest was for $233,690, although subsequent negotiations lowered that to $219,550. The service area has funds within its own budget to make up the $42,265 shortfall.

Ordinance 2001-19-38 passed Tuesday approves spending that money, and authorizes borough Mayor Dale Bagley to award the fire truck contract to United Fire Service of Issaquah, Wash. The bulk of the funds, nearly $160,000, are grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. The rest came from local sources.

The Assembly also passed a resolution awarding a contract for professional design services for a Kachemak Emergency Services firehouse. The contract will go to Bezek Durst Seiser of Anchorage.

In other business, the assembly introduced an ordinance that would place two options for revamping the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education. If adopted as proposed, voters would choose between the status quo - all members elected at-large <> and a by-district election format in which winners would represent specific districts but be elected to those district seats by all voters in the borough. Ordinance 2002-16, introduced by Assembly President Tim Navarre, will get a public hearing at the June 4 assembly meeting in Soldotna.

The Assembly also passed a resolution offered by Chris Moss of Homer opposing allocation of crab fishery resources in federally managed waters in Alaska to existing processors only. That idea is under consideration by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

"We believe that this would have a negative effect on the prices offered to fishermen and would also reduce the number of new processors that would be able to compete for resources delivered to Alaska communities," Moss, a commercial fisherman, said in a memorandum to the assembly.

He warned that while the measure under consideration by the council is for the Bering Sea, it could become "the template for groundfish and be expanded into the Gulf of Alaska, ultimately affecting Kenai Peninsula communities, fishermen and processors."

<> Hal Spence is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.