When the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets again next Tuesday, new assembly members will be sworn in. And one of the first orders of business will be taking up one of the recommendations of an election stakeholders work group that met for about seven months earlier this year.
Among the suggestions that group made was to start appointing members of local service area boards. Those boards administer things like recreation and hospital services, and very few people actually put their name on the ballot to serve on those boards. Kenai city manager Paul Ostrander served on the stakeholders group.
“As I’m sure most of you are aware, many times when we have elections the service area board (seats) are uncontested. I believe over 90 percent of them are typically uncontested. This likely would result in the same folks that are interested in those service area boards to still remain and serve on those boards, however, it would be a cost savings to the borough and we feel it would be a much more efficient way to fill those service area boards.”
The ordinance the assembly will consider a switch to appointing those board members. The mayor would make the appointment and the assembly would confirm, so there would still be opportunity for public input, even without a vote. The sponsors of the ordinance, Brent Hibbert and Willy Dunne, also cite a cost savings by leaving those options off the ballot.
The assembly approved doing away with elections for three service area boards in 2017. In all, there are a dozen service area boards in the borough, five of which are elected.