Assembly approves nearly $6 million in grants

  • By KAYLEE OSOWSKI
  • Wednesday, September 3, 2014 11:01pm
  • News

Service areas and projects throughout the Kenai Peninsula saw millions of state dollars appropriated Tuesday night.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members unanimously approved nearly $6 million in government grants.

Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said the projects approved are a “direct result” of support from local legislators and the state.

“It’s something that absent that (support) we would be hard-pressed to provide for a number of those projects and services within the confines of our service area budgets and tax revenues,” Navarre said.

Of the 14 ordinances up for public hearing at the meeting, 11 dealt with grant money.

The Road Service Area received the largest single state grant in the amount of $4 million for borough road projects. It also received a $380,000 state grant for Tall Tree Avenue to rebuild the bridge and upgrade the road.

“The Tall Tree (Avenue) bridge has run into some problems on a number of flooding instances,” assembly member Brent Johnson said.

While some oil and gas companies have done work on the road, it has still been an issue, he said.

The assembly approved $15,200 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the Bear Creek Fire Service Area for turnout gear — protective clothing. It postponed approval of two state grants totaling $129,700 for the service area for fire station completion and startup and search and rescue equipment to allow for the service area to meet and give a recommendation to the assembly.

Two flooding issues received funding. The assembly approved $500,000 from the state to the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area for mitigation projects. It also accepted $38,778.85 from the State of Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for costs from the October 2013 Kalifornsky Beach Road area flood.

The borough’s Local Emergency Planning Committee was approved for $22,983 from the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for services, supplies and equipment.

The assembly accepted $190,000 from the state for pool tile and drain replacement for the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area in Nikiski.

Along with OK’ing $250,000 from the state for the Kachemak Emergency Service Area, the assembly also appropriated $50,000 from the service area’s capital project fund and approved a loan in the amount of $275,000 from the borough’s general fund for an aerial quint fire apparatus, which is capable of performing multiple firefighting tasks. The loan is to be paid back in no longer than seven years with an annual interest rate of 4.25 percent.

The service area, Johnson said, felt like it needed the equipment now instead of waiting and trying for additional state money. Johnson said about a year ago a fire occurred near where the apparatus would be kept and had the service area had it then, the aerial quint fire apparatus would have been “extremely useful” in fighting the fire.

Through the state’s Community Revenue Sharing Program, the assembly accepted $545,400 for communities outside of city limits. Assembly President Hal Smalley said while the state has allocated money through this program for years, state-level revenue sharing is “under fire.”

“The regular revenue sharing that the municipal governments get — boroughs and cities — was reduced by $8 million this year,” he said. … “So this revenue sharing figure probably will be a target looked at in the future.”

Assembly member Mako Haggerty said while it may have appeared the body moved through the 14 ordinances up for public hearing in record time — the entire meeting lasted slightly more than two hours — he said many people and service areas worked hard to get the grants allocated in some of those ordinances.

“(The assembly) just put the stamp on it tonight,” he said. “It may look like we didn’t give it a lot of thought, but this has been in the process for a long time.”

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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