Story last updated at 2:39 p.m. Thursday, September 26, 2002

Two vie for borough mayor seat

Economic development, quality of life singled out as important issues

Morris News Service-Alaska
photo: election2002

 
Dale Bagley  
Two candidates are vying to be mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough in Tuesday's municipal election. Incumbent Dale Bagley and challenger Ken Lancaster were asked to respond to four questions about issues facing the borough. Their answers are below.

Candidates are listed alphabetically.

Dale Bagley

Age: 38

Occupation: Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor

Family: Wife, Debbie

Education: High School degree from SoHi; Forestry technician degree from AVTEC; U.S. Marine Corps; Three years college.

Previous elected offices: Soldotna City Council, one year; Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, three years; borough mayor, three years.

Expected cost of your campaign: $24,000

What is the single greatest issue facing the borough today, and how would you address it?

Economic Development. Without a strong economy you don't have money for school or teachers. Without a strong economy you don't have anyone left to enjoy the "quality of life." The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly had concerns about funding the Economic Development District (EDD).

My first year in office I presented a new plan to the assembly where the borough kept the money in house and started our own department (CEDD) in the Red Diamond Mall.

That department has been actively working on the Cook Inlet salmon-branding program called "Kenai Wild." They are working on the bid for the Arctic Winter Games, helped get a grant that will provide a dry kiln and jobs for a Nikiski timber mill, and helped with oil and gas issues. The economist produces the quarterly report and "Situation and Prospectus." The Small Business Development Center for the Kenai Peninsula is also located there.

What is your view of the borough mill rate? Should it be lowered again, or should the borough continue to collect the revenue at the current rate? If the mill rate should remain where it is, what should the borough be doing with the revenue?

The borough's mill rate has been lowered during the last three years. In fact, the general mill rate has been lowered a half mill each year. However, the roads mill rate has been raised 1 mill. Due to the many service areas, the borough's overall mill rate has fluctuated. In the area around Homer, the mill rate has increased with the development of the Kachemak Bay Emergency Service Area.

If the Food Sales Tax Initiative passes this year, we probably will not be able to reduce the general mill rate next year. In fact, we may have to increase it. The borough could have reduced the mill rate even more during the last three years, but instead we have dramatically increased spending for capital improvement projects in our local schools.

What should the borough do to encourage economic development?

Unless a large natural gas strike occurs locally or there is a natural gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, our industrial area will face shutting down in the next 10-15 years. The borough has started to take an aggressive approach to the problem by hiring an oil and gas liaison who has taken a proactive approach to this problem by developing relations with the incoming state administration, and the various oil and gas companies.

Another area of concern is the commercial fishing industry. They are facing less fishing time and a lower price per pound. The borough has developed a marketing program called "Kenai Wild," with an emphasis on quality control. This hopefully will improve the price per pound and at the same time promote the Kenai Peninsula as a destination spot for recreational fishing.

Where do you stand on each of the five ballot propositions and, briefly, why?


* Prop. 1: School board representation

I favor Plan B, which is the nine single-member districts that coincides with the existing assembly districts. This is fair representation for the borough assembly, and it is also fair representation for the school board. It will make it easier for school board members to run for office and represent their constituents.


* Prop. 2: General obligation board for solid waste disposal facilities

I support Proposition 2. The Kenai Peninsula Solid Waste landfill is filling up, and we need to develop another site. Due to federal and state regulations, the new site will be done differently then the old landfill.

The new site will be a lined site with water passing through the waste and a water and gas collection and treatment system. We will need to open another new site every five years. We are asking the voters to approve two new sites which will last for 10 years. We believe we will secure some grant funding and not need to bond for as much money. At this time, it is not anticipated that the mill rate will increase for the bond payoff.


* Prop. 3: General obligation bond for Seward Middle School

I support Proposition 3. After a long review by the Seward Site Council, the Seward City Council and the Kenai Peninsula Board of Education, the recommendation was that it would save taxpayers more money to build a new school instead of renovating the old school built in 1968.


* Prop. 4: Non-prepared foods sales tax initiative

I am against Proposition 4. What this will do is make visitors to the Kenai Peninsula pay less taxes and property owners will pay more taxes through an increase in property tax.

Even if the borough is able to absorb the decrease in sales taxes, that still means that property owners did not get a reduced mill rate. One idea I have explored is a Seasonal Sales Tax. During the summer, visitors to the Kenai Peninsula pay more taxes, and during the winter when things are tighter, there would be no sales tax on anything. I have been holding off on putting this plan before the voters until the state gets done dealing with the statewide sales tax issue.


* Prop. 5: Proposed Anchor Point Port and Harbor Service Area

I don't get to vote on this issue, but I am willing to let the voters of the new proposed service area decide this issue.

Ken Lancaster

photo: election2002

 
Ken Lancaster  
Age: 59

Occupation: Realtor

Family: Wife, Mavis, and five children

Education: High school and vocational education and trade school

Previous elected offices: Alaska House of Representatives; Soldotna City Council; Mayor of Soldotna; Alaska Rural Electric Association; Homer Electric Association; Soldotna Chamber of Commerce; Alaska Municipal League.

Expected Cost of your campaign: $20,000

What is the single greatest issue facing the borough today, and how would you address it?

Diversification and working together to grow our borough, while maintaining our quality of life. The peninsula is so fortunate to have its natural resources, fish, oil, gas, wilderness and beauty.

Educational opportunities, health care and a very multicultural make of people for employment in all walks of life.

But we need to do a lot better job of communicating, partnering and sharing of talents to grow what we have. I believe we need to continue to work with the state to receive the balance of our land allotment. We need to keep working on providing better maintenance of roads and making properties accessible where feasible.

I believe that diversity, while being a strength, has to be built upon and refined so that we produce and deliver quality products, whether it be in education, health care, fisheries or quality of life experiences for a tourist so that they return or tell friends to visit.

What is your view of the borough mill rate? Should it be lowered again, or should the borough continue to collect the revenue at the current rate? If the mill rate should remain where it is, what should the borough be doing with the revenue?

While the mill rate has come down some in recent years, or offset as to the road service areas, we also have expectations from residents for services they have come to expect. I do not believe it should be arbitrarily high.

The revenue in excess of expenses should be invested by definition of the assembly or be used to maintain our assets.

Some revenues also must be maintained for insurance requirement as dictated by the assembly. Our sales taxes (2 percent) goes entirely to schools, and the property tax is what funds general government, and it is the assessed value of property which includes oil and gas properties which have a tendency to fluctuate depending on the price of oil and gas.

What should the borough do to encourage economic development?

Everyone, I believe has a different expectation for economic development. I believe it first means we make the most out of what we have available, i.e.: fish, oil and gas, people, tourism or industry and business that is already going on today.

We have more opportunities, I believe, in education, health care, timber so as to keep our residents at

home on the peninsula and working at reasonable paying jobs. That is not to say we should not work as I have to bring new opportunity, such as the European Aeronautic Defense System assembly plant and others to our area to promote new tax base and investment and employment opportunities.

Our borough is so fortunate to have the diversity it has, and we need to build on that in the areas I've mentioned.

Where do you stand on each of the five ballot propositions and, briefly, why?


* Prop. 1: School board representation

I believe this is the voters' decision to decide how they want the school district represented and they will on Oct. 1.

My personal opinion is that it should be by district so that each area being as diverse as our area is, has representation relevant to their particular school maintenance-wise, attendance level and pupil-teacher ratios.

We should have better access to parents' wants and needs and involvement. They would generally bring better information both for the board and for administration to respond to.


* Prop. 2: General obligation board for solid waste disposal facilities

I will support the G.O. bonds for solid waste disposal facilities. Not only do we have to follow state and federal requirements, but also we need to follow through with the program as designed.


* Prop. 3: General obligation bond for Seward Middle School

I will support the Seward Middle School bond. I worked, while in the Legislature, on the House Finance Committee to make sure that it was part of HB 528, the debt reimbursement bill that was ultimately signed by the governor.

If you read the fact sheet, it very obviously makes more sense to build a new facility for our students.

Interest rates will hopefully still be attractively low and maintenance costs will be less with a new facility.


* Prop. 4: Non-prepared foods sales tax initiative

I do not support Proposition 4.

Budgets are typically built from an income and expenses format, and it potentially takes away $2 million dollars from the borough, which will come out of the education budget.

It also will potentially take away $400,000-plus from Homer, $900,000 from Kenai, approximately $20,000 from Seldovia, approximately $300,000 from Seward, approximately $1 million from Soldotna and will have many unintended consequences.

While we may all like to pay less in taxes overall, this has the potential to cost us more in the long run by giving not only the borough but also the cities the opportunity to raise taxes.


* Prop. 5: Proposed Anchor Point Port and Harbor Service Area

Not my area, but I do believe it is appropriate for service areas to be formed by the affected people, allowing them to deal with issues that relate directly to them and that they are willing to pay for.

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