Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

The filing period has closed for borough assembly and school board candidates in this October’s municipal election.
    Seats for Assembly Districts 3, 4, and 7 are available for three-year terms, representing, Nikiski, Soldotna, and the Central Area, south of Soldotna.
    None of the incumbents, President Wayne Ogle, Vice-President Dale Bagley, and  long-time Assemblyman Paul Fischer, are on the ballot.

 

The fall ballot for borough elections is beginning to take shape. The assembly tackled a number of ordinances that, if approved would have sent some important questions to the ballot for voters to decide.

 

 


Kenai Peninsula Borough

 

Anglers looking for a spot to access the south side of the Kenai River near Soldotna have never had an easy go of it. Most public access, including boat launches, is on the north side. A resolution calling for a public boat launch off Funny River Road was adopted by the borough assembly last week, but, it doesn’t do much to advance a project that has long been on the wishlist of local residents.

 

 


 

If Tuesday night’s meeting was any kind of an indication, changing borough management from a strong mayor style to a manager style of governance is going to be a tough sell to voters. 

 

While 12 of the 19 boroughs around the state employ a manager to oversee day-to-day administrative operations, residents on the Kenai still go to the polls every three years to elect a mayor to serve in that role. But some on the assembly think it’s time for a change.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly unanimously adopted next year’s budget last night. Most of the work in terms of amending the proposed budget was taken care of over the previous two meetings, with much of the debate going into the funding of the so-called non-departmentals.

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.

 

A hiring freeze may be thawing out at the borough. The assembly approved a resolution at its meeting this week encouraging the administration to fill positions that have been open for more than a year.

More than 100 people were at the Seward High School auditorium for last night’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting. The assembly heard more than three hours of public testimony on two different education funding items.

The first was an ordinance that will appropriate $2.4 million in supplemental funding to allow the district to begin offering contracts to nontenured teachers. The assembly cast a 5-4 vote to approve that funding, but it will be subject to a potential veto by borough Mayor Charlie Pierce. When asked by assembly member Kelly Cooper if he intended to issue a veto, he said he wasn’t ready to speak to it. He was ready to speak to the reasons the borough and the school district find themselves in this situation, pointing to yet-to-be resolved budget drama in Juneau and his predecessor, Mike Navarre.

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s annual meeting in Seward usually has a fairly light, local agenda. But this year, they’ve even switched venues from city hall to the more spacious high school auditorium as education funding measures on the agenda are sure to draw a crowd.

 

 


 

The assembly took nearly three hours of public testimony before it finally got an action item on the agenda. One of which was related to education funding.

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly rebuked a key component of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget last night. A pair of bills Dunleavy has sent to the legislature would shift tax revenue from oil and gas properties from municipalities to the state. That would mean a roughly $15 million deduction in borough revenue, nearly 20 percent of what the borough brings in.

  At last night's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, many people stood up to speak out against proposed school funding cuts from the state, and asked that the borough provide some relief.

Here is an excerpt Anchor Point residents worried about the loss of the community's Chapman School.

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved an ordinance that specifically protects whistleblowers from discrimination at its meeting Tuesday night. The new policy mirrors state statute, but the measure wasn’t approved without some contentious debate.

 

 


 

Work continues apace on an expansion project at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna updating the obstetrics wing and adding a catheterization lab. Planning began on the project more than two years ago.

 

 


 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and administration from the borough school district held a budget work session Tuesday afternoon. The money struggles the district has been dealing with the past several years don’t look to have much relief coming in the next budget cycle.

 

 


courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough

The George A. Navarre Borough Building in Soldotna has gained another distinguished name. In a ceremony before the assembly meeting Tuesday the assembly chambers were named for Betty J. Glick.

The designation honors a woman who has been involved in public service virtually since moving to the Kenai Peninsula in the early 1960s.

Max Best, director of the borough’s Planning Department, was one of several well-wishers at the ceremony Tuesday.

“I want to thank you from our family to yours and for your selflessness and your family’s commitment to your public service and everything you did, setting a gold standard that all of us need to follow,” Best said.


While the Kenai Peninsula Borough survived the Nov. 30, 7.0 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in rosy condition compared to Anchorage and areas of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, it didn’t escape unscathed. Damage reports are still coming in and the repair bills are adding up.

The borough assembly will see an ordinance at its meeting Tuesday asking to appropriate $450,000 to cover repair and inspection costs already incurred and more yet to come.

 

How the Kenai Peninsula Borough administers local elections could be changing. A complaint to the state’s Commission for Human Rights in 2015 has led to the borough creating an election stakeholders group that will look for better ways to help residents cast their votes.

 

 


 

Alaska’s ongoing budget struggles don’t appear to have any quick or easy solutions. Those problems continue to trickle down to cities and boroughs, which are picking up a bigger share of operating costs every year. But the Alaska Municipal League is trying to give local governments a new source of revenue.

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s last meeting of 2018 was one of its shortest.

Oil and gas exploration on the southern peninsula has picked up considerably the past several years. Hilcorp has been responsible for much of the activity. The company recently leased nearly 20 acres from the Kenai Peninsula Borough near Anchor Point.

 

The legal fight about the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s invocation policy is over. The assembly had two questions to answer about it last night.

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is still grappling with a Superior Court judge’s ruling on its current invocation policy. The ruling deemed that the borough’s policy allowing prayer before assembly meetings excluded minority faiths, therefore violating the state Constitution’s Establishment Clause.

 

 


 

 

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