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The borough assembly passed its fiscal year 2021 budget late last night with few major changes, but plenty of debate about those changes.

The approved budget provides about $82.8 million in general fund expenditures, which pay for services like general government operations and the borough’s contribution to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. This year, that contribution is $50 million, a little more than $2 million below the maximum amount the borough could have contributed by statute.

In response to objections from several municipalities in Southcentral and Southeast Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has formed a working group to come up with recommendations on how to consolidate dispatching services for the Alaska State Troopers.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety announced in mid-May that it would consolidate all the emergency dispatching services from the Kenai Peninsula, Mat-Su valley, and Southeast to a facility in Palmer. The issue has been going on for several years, when the DPS first announced the plan under the Walker administration, though the new center was originally planned for Anchorage.

Kenai Peninsula Borough

Three staff members of the Nikiski Fire Department have tested positive for coronavirus. They and eight others have been quarantined to help control the spread, and all the other staff members in the department have been tested, according to the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The local public health department is working on contact tracing to determine who else may have been in contact with them and who else may need to quarantine, but so far, no patient transports were exposed, according to the borough.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

 The Anchor River and Deep Creek will officially off-limits to sport fishing starting Wednesday. Too few king salmon are coming back to those rivers to allow for it, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The rivers, which run alongside the Sterling Highway on the way to Homer, are popular sportfishing streams throughout the summer. But for the past few years, the king salmon runs there have been struggling. As of Monday, 164 kings had passed the weir on Deep Creek, compared to 282 last year, and 201 fish had passed the weir on the Anchor River, compared to 938 by the same day last year. Based on past run timing, that means a run of about 2,000 kings for the Anchor in 2020, a little more than half of the lower end of the escapement goal.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is working on contingency plans for reopening schools in the fall. At a Monday night school board meeting, Superintendent John O’Brien said the “Smart Start” workgroup, made up of parents, teachers, staff and administrators, is working with the state to develop various options, since no one knows what the COVID-19 situation will be in August.

“Scenarios for low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk situations that are plans that can be developed and implemented, not necessarily as a one-size-fits-all for the entire district, but that will be agile enough and flexible enough to be implemented in various parts of the school district, depending upon the situation,” O’Brien said.

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