Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 5:49 PM on Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Residents have big voice in shaping community 'wish lists'

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

It might not be Christmas, but it is time for unincorporated communities in the Kenai Peninsula Borough to create their wish lists. During October, borough assembly members and representatives from the offices of the borough mayor and the borough clerk meet with residents to identify projects to be included on the borough's capital project priority list to be submitted to the Legislature.

On the southern Kenai Peninsula, Mako Haggerty, who represents areas of the southern peninsula with the exception of the city of Homer, will meet with:

• Anchor Point area residents at the Anchor point Senior Center, 10:30 a.m. Oct. 8;

• Fox River area residents at McNeil Canyon Elementary School, 2 p.m. Oct. 8;

• Fritz Creek area residents at McNeil Canyon Elementary School, 4 p.m. Oct. 8;

Brent Johnson, who represents areas of the central peninsula including Ninilchik and Nikolaevsk, will join Haggerty at the Anchor Point meeting since that is an opportunity for Nikolaevsk residents to make their wishes known.

Johnson also will attend a meeting for:

• Ninilchik area residents at the Ninilchik Senior Center, 1 p.m. Oct. 19.

The wish lists of Nanwalek and Port Graham are dealt with through correspondence.

Accompanying Haggerty and Johnson will be Shellie Saner, deputy clerk for the borough, and Brenda Ahlberg, the community and fiscal project manager in the borough mayor's office.

"These meetings allow the unincorporated communities to weigh in on what's important to them," said Haggerty. "The assembly members of each district are always open for suggestions; however, this is an opportunity to compare notes and present ideas in a group forum."

Projects suggested at the upcoming meetings are narrowed down to two per community using a show of hands, said Saner. Each project should address:

• If the project has previously received funds, the amount, the source and when received;

• Funding requests submitted to other entities and whether those requests are outstanding;

• Any additional funding anticipated;

• How project funding will be spent from the beginning to end of the project;

• A detailed project description, including how it benefits the community;

• A timeline of the project, from start to finish;

• How the project was selected;

• How the community has shown its support;

• If the project includes a new facility, who will own it and who owns the land where it will be located;

• Who will own the project when it is completed;

• Who will be responsible for any necessary ongoing maintenance;

• How will future maintenance be funded.

Nonprofit organizations can prepare by identifying projects that benefit the communities as a whole.

"It is important that everyone comes with a spirit of cooperation," said Haggerty.

"This not only keeps it a community event, but also smooths out the process."

During the meetings, Ahlberg will answer questions relating to the Community Revenue Sharing Program, established by the Legislature to provide funding to municipalities, unincorporated communities and Native villages. The 2011-2012 year is the program's fourth year. As in previous years, the amount per eligible community is $19,604.

To qualify for the program, communities must have a population of 25 or more. Allocations are made through boroughs, IRA councils, community councils or nonprofit corporations. The unincorporated communities must provide three of the following: fire protection, emergency medical, water and sewer, solid waste management, public road or ice road maintenance; public health; search and rescue. Revenue sharing funds are to be used for a public purpose.

Participation in the meetings as a way for residents to meet their assembly members, hear what is important to their communities and to have their voices heard, said Saner. Haggerty encouraged residents to attend.

"Many in the Legislature use these lists as a working document," said Haggerty. "It is important to take every advantage of these meetings and this process. But the work doesn't stop there. If a project is worth asking assistance, it is also worth following through to completion. Letters and emails to your elected officials help move this process along."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.