Assembly passes budget, no new taxes

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed its approximately $83 million general fund budget Tuesday after several amendments and lengthy testimony.

The assembly amended the budget to eliminate funding Borough Mayor Mike Navarre had included for the Central Area Rural Transit System and reduce funding for the Small Business Development Center to $84,000 and for the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council to $306,000.

Assembly members debated how best to handle borough finances going forward given the state’s economic downturn before they voted down two tax measures also on the agenda. One would have raised the borough’s property tax rate from 4.5 to 5 mills, a move Navarre said was necessary to avoid dipping into the borough’s fund balance to the tune of $4.3 million this year.

That measure was amended by assembly member Dale Bagley to keep the mill rate at 4.5 mills. His amendment passed 8-1, with assembly member Willy Dunne casting the sole no vote.

The assembly also voted down an ordinance brought forward by Bagley that would have reduced the months that nonprepared food items are exempt from sales tax in the borough. It was defeated 6-3, with Bagley and assembly members Jill Schaefer and Brent Hibbert voting in favor.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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