The letter does not claim that there is any pending proposal, but from listening to the city of Homer I am convinced that they are thinking about a merger.
There is no waiting period for this, contrary to what some believe -- the city can file a petition to merge at any time, because Kachemak City was not part of the annexation proposal. Footnote 82 on Page 353 of the preliminary report on the annexation says: "The City of Homer and the City of Kachemak could be combined through a variety of means including consolidation, annexation or merger as defined in the law." I use the term merger to avoid confusion with the annexation that just happened.
Even those areas that were part of the original proposed annexation area are only safe for two years before Homer can try again. The city of Homer has expressed a desire to add areas east of Kachemak City (even beyond what they just tried for) and can only do so if they also merge with Kachemak City. I am sure they will try sooner or later <> and I would expect sooner.
Patrick Poland, director of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, did confirm that a merger may take place without a vote. Just because no other city has done so does not mean Homer will not be the first. The only way to predict their future behavior is to look at past behavior, and that leads me to believe they will try to merge without a vote. They handled the annexation in a very hostile manner, and were rewarded. Why should they change tactics? Only a successful appeal of the Local Boundaries Commission decision will force a change.
The Department of Community and Economic Development did indeed indicate that Homer and Kachemak City should merge, they just didn't say it bluntly. Here's what they wrote in the preliminary report, pages 353-354: "In DCED's view, the merits of "merging" the city of Homer and the city of Kachemak are about on par with the merits of annexing the so-called urban area (the 3.3 square miles recommended in the report.) The urban area and the city of Kachemak have many similar characteristics. Further, nearly all of the arguments favoring annexation of the urban area apply equally to a prospective "merger" of the city of Homer and the City of Kachemak."
The DCED goes on to say: "Moreover, there are fundamental principles of sound local government that favor such a merger. These include the express policy in Article X, section 1 of Alaska's constitution promoting a "minimum of local government units." The 'minimum of local government units' policy is also reflected in AS 29.05.021(b)."
The merits of merging are now even stronger, as Kachemak City is halfway to being an enclave, and a part of the new city of Homer can get city services only through Kachemak City. This will make Homer's arguments in favor of merging that much stronger. Since the boundary commission approved the annexation of what the DCED calls the urban area, I am sure they will likewise approve any proposed merger (or consolidation or annexation) with Homer.
While Kachemak City being next in line is conjecture, it is based on a firm knowledge of Homer city government that Mr. Poland does not have. My opinion that the LBC will approve such a merger is strongly supported by the available evidence, contrary to Mr. Poland's statement.
<> Editor's Note: Abigail Fuller is vice president of Citizens Concerned About Annexation. She is responding to a May 7 public letter from Department of Community and Economic Developer director Patrick Poland criticizing Fuller's recent letter to area residents warning of an impending merger effort between Homer and Kachemak City. Poland denied any pending proposal and claimed Fuller's letter included several inaccuracies.