The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly had its annual debate over so-called non-departmental funding this week as it continues to work through next year’s budget.
Items like the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, the Small Business Development Center and Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing have their supporters and detractors every year, but those agencies all took some cuts last year. KPTMC was set to receive no funding this year. Assembly member Kelly Cooper offered the amendment to restore some funding.
“This line item has been funded at $200,000-$250,000 over the years. Last year they took a significant decrease down to $100,000. This organization responded. They reorganized as we asked...I feel they’ve been very responsive, they bring a lot of visitors to the area. People are going to come to Alaska...we need to get them to the Peninsula.”
Assembly member Paul Fischer was not in favor for a couple different reasons.
“If you’re not a member, you don’t get the direct benefits from them even though you pay taxes for that thing. The other is for years, I kept saying change your fee structure...I just think it’s wrong for us to take money from everybody for the benefit of a private organization.”
His reasoning was similar in regard to the small business development center, which was supposed to get $75,000 in the coming year. That number was amended to an even $100,000.
“...for $25,000 we don’t know (what we’re getting). The guy gave a good presentation and if you look at all the things we’ve done tonight, personalities are into it more so than substance. And this is one, I like the guy, I like the program, but I’ve got to be consistent when it comes to spending money," Fischer said.
Each agency gives a presentation during the annual budget cycle, in addition to quarterly reports, detailing what the borough funding is being used for. The small business development center, KPTMC and the economic development district will all be funded to the tune of $100,000 for the next budget.