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Water quality monitoring makes it into Kenai City budget

  The Kenai City Council on Wednesday night passed a $16-point-5 million General Fund budget, which covers the basic operation of the city. Another $14 million is appropriated from the city’s various other funds, such as the airport, senior center and capital project funds for their respective operations.

Among the amendments added to the budget Wednesday night was $5,000 for Kenai River water quality monitoring — a grant to the Kenai Watershed Forum that was put in jeopardy because of council displeasure over how last year’s water monitoring was handled. After a presentation by the Forum’s Branden Bornemann, council members, who two weeks were wavering, offered their begrudging support.

“I guess I'm still kind of in between on it. I think that sampling and continued sampling is important,” said Councilman Henry Knackstedt. “We've got a long database for 20 years, which is outstanding, actually. And so, you know, funding to the same level every year, it seems like at some point, you perhaps in some areas sample every other year or every third year or something, especially if the the data isn’t showing a large increase or a shallow increase. And I’d probably be inclined to to concur with this for this year. But I think that, moving forward that we probably ought to be looking at what benefits the city and if annual testing of these waters isa value to the city. I kind of question that.”

Mayor Brian Gabriel said he would support funding for this summer’s work because of the river’s importance. 

“The Kenai River clearly is the crown jewel of the Kenai Peninsula if not all of Alaska. You know for the productivity we've seen the, the economic benefits that it provides to the state and local, and the borough are very far reaching. So obviously it's something we need to make sure that we protect this is one way to do that. So I’m kind of aligned with console Malloy, you know, to move this forward at this time, but maybe look at our role and helping them when that memorandum of understanding comes back.”

The amendments were approved, as was the budget itself, as amended.

Also passed was a companion resolution setting the property tax for the next fiscal year at a status quo 4.35 mils. That’s a $435 tax burden for every $100,000 of real property value.

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