The Kenai Peninsula Borough building, pictured Sept. 12, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai Peninsula Borough building, pictured Sept. 12, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Borough looks to manage facilities in more efficent way

The borough assembly appropriated funds to cover costs of facility management strategic planning.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is allocating money to hire consultants to find ways to make borough facilities management for efficient.

At their Tuesday night meeting, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly appropriated $220,000 from the general fund to cover the costs for facility management strategic planning. Funds for the multi-year project will not lapse, according to the ordinance. The goal of the project is to improve efficiency in facility management borough wide.

Since its establishment in 1964, the borough has accumulated more than 148 facilities that have a total value of more than $1 billion, the ordinance said. There is currently no centralized facility management of the borough’s assets and facilities. Management of the borough’s facilities are on an “as-needed basis” by the department of agency using that asset, a Dec. 26 memo from borough administration to the assembly said.

This “as-needed” style of management was established early on in the borough’s history, when infrastructure needs were small and less coordinated. As the borough grew over the decades, the lack of a centralized facility management has led to “numerous inefficiencies and inconsistent policies throughout the borough’s organization,” the memo said.

In 2019, a facility management committee — consisting of borough administrative employees — was formed to identify needs, strategies and priorities for borough facility management. The committee recommended the borough create a project that includes a third-party facility management consulting firm, the ordinance said.

The consulting firm will assess and investigate the borough’s current systems and properties and help develop strategic recommendations that are specifically tailored for the borough’s needs, the ordinance said. The memo says the third-party consultant may bring a broader experienced-based perspective to borough efforts to standardize their facility management.

The ordinance appropriating the funds passed the assembly seven to one, with assembly member Jesse Bjorkman opposing the appropriation. Bjorkman attempted to amend the ordinance, reducing the appropriation by $150,000 in hopes of addressing the costs for the project during the regular budget cycle later this spring. The amendment was voted down.

“I would much rather see this expenditure be made within the regular budget process so that we can weigh it against other priorities we have in the borough and figure out what we would like to do,” Bjorkman said.

Assembly President Kelly Cooper spoke in support of making the appropriations prior to the budget cycle.

“I find it very appropriate to do this outside of the budget process because this is the tool we need to develop our budget appropriately,” Cooper said. “I like our budgets to be as close as accurate as we possibly can make them.”

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce also spoke in support of the appropriations at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think without having standardized practices and clear understanding as to who owns and manages an asset you’re going to make mistakes,” Pierce said. “We’ve made mistakes along the way and we’ve got a lot of deferred maintenance in our facilities that’s catching up with us. I think this is ever more important. It would be biased, I believe, if we did it internally and we wouldn’t take a true hard look at who we are and what our potential opportunities might be. I don’t think the results would be the same.”

Several assembly members said the borough was due for a facilities organizational overhaul.

“I think we need to get into the 21st century here and move on and hopefully find some cost savings on how to run our facilities,” assembly member Brent Hibbert said. “We’ve tried to do this by ourselves for all these years and we need to be looking at our facilities before they crumble.”

“It makes sense,” assembly member Brent Johnson said. “We have all these different buildings … I think we’re past the time this needs to be done and I fully support the mayor and appropriations.”

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