A new measure that would inch Nikiski toward incorporation will get some attention at this week's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting.
A resolution is on the agenda asking the assembly to gives its support to the idea, which, Assembly Member Wayne Ogle says hasn’t happened with past efforts.
"The assembly is the policy-making entity for the borough. And the assembly has not weighed in on this effort to do incorporation. It’s nothing different than if the people of Sterling wanted to incorporate. The assembly would take a look at it, ‘Yeah, we support their effort under the constitution of the state of Alaska to do so.’"
Local organizers have put together a petition for the state Local Boundary Commission. That’s the body that essentially decides when an area can become a city.
It lays out a map for the proposed city, which includes all the areas currently served by the Nikiski Fire Service Area. That includes Tyonek and Beluga on the west side of Cook Inlet. According to the petition, Tyonek would be represented on the Nikiski City Council by a liaison.
This is not a new idea by any means. It’s been kicked around for years, and a similar resolution made its way to the assembly in 1991. Cold feet, Ogle says, eventually stopped the process then.
"And that’s why, with this process, it will become a campaign, providing the LBC gives its authorization, which I have expectations that they will. Then it’s really going to be (a question of), 'Do the people of Nikiski want to do it?'"
There’s no shortage of reasons why people in Nikiski would want to incorporate. Chief among them, the broad idea of more local control. More specifically, more bang for the buck on local services. Things like roads. According to the petition, the borough collects more for the road service area than it spends on maintenance.
Under the preliminary plans in the petition, fund balance for the current senior, road, fire and recreation service areas would be transferred from the borough to the city, and that’s where the new city’s budget would start, at about $2 million. Ogle says he thinks if the issue makes it to a ballot, it would likely come in the form of a special election and, if history is any indication, the vote probably won’t be a runaway toward either side.
“I think it would be a very close vote, but I think it’s entirely possible. I think people are beginning — especially with these taxes coming up that the (borough) administration is looking at — the city as a home-rule city would like to be able to weigh in on some of that."
One of the new taxes the administration is proposing is a bed tax. That, too, will get some attention at the meeting with an initial public hearing. A final public hearing is set for Aug.15.