The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly had another lengthy meeting Tuesday night, fine tuning the borough budget. After nixing mayor Charlie Pierce’s proposal to use money from the borough’s land trust fund to help balance the budget, the assembly adjusted some of the other proposals from the administration.
Non-departmental funding, an issue that gets plenty of debate each year, had been a target for trimming spending. In particular, the Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council, KPTMC, saw its funding cut by two-thirds, to an even $100,000. But the majority of the assembly considers that an investment, rather than an expense. Hal Smalley introduced the amendment to restore the $200,000.
“The borough’s investment in tourism and marketing is not a donation to a non-profit. The investment is with a marketing agency to provide marketing for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Now is not a time, economically, to see a big change there. This investment drives business and sales tax dollars. In return the borough receives these sales tax dollars that by far exceed the investment that they’re making in the advertising.”
While that agency needed a vote to get its funding restored to previous levels, two other groups, the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District and the Small Business Development Center each got a bump in funding from the mayor. The assembly also considered a new position in the mayor’s office. It would have been for a part-time, temporary job, mostly handling social media for the borough. Chief of Staff John Quick explained the idea behind adding that job to the administration’s staff.
“I think it’s very important that this borough get with the ways in which people are being communicated to. This position not only covers some of that in the social media realm, but it also covers what does it look like to learn some of the latest coding trends that are out there, updating websites and the new, cutting edge ways to update websites. So we’re going to be looking at different options as it relates to this position on kind of having it be a utility player, if you will.”
The assembly wasn’t convinced, though, and rejected the request for $30,000 to fund the position. With some more tailoring out of the way, the assembly still has to cast a final vote on the budget and consider new revenue options, including ballot measures for an increase in sales tax and creation of a borough-wide bed tax. Those will all by on the agenda for the next meeting on June 5th.