Borough sends priority list to feds

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Monday, February 16, 2015 10:50pm
  • News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is asking for minimal federal financial assistance for the 2016 fiscal year.

In the borough’s 2015 Federal Priorities approved by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Feb. 2, the Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools were listed as necessary forms of revenue for the Kenai Peninsula, said borough mayor Mike Navarre.

The Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools are two federal programs that provide significant support for the borough, Navarre said. Every year there is the chance that the government will lessen the amount of money they fund states in these programs, he said.

“The federal government owns approximately six million acres within the Kenai Peninsula Borough, which is 60 percent of the total land area in the borough,” according to the list of priorities.

Those lands are located within the Lake Clark, Katmai and Kenai Fjords National Parks, the Kenai and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuges and the Chugach National Forest, according to the list.

The borough provides services in these areas where tax collection is not an option, Navarre said. Receiving revenue from these taxes is important for maintaining those services, he said. What money that is received goes directly into the borough’s General Fund.

Beyond monetary requests, the borough also asked for managerial focus on projects such as the “Cooper Landing Bypass,” Navarre said. It is an expensive project, and one of the oldest on the federal highways project lists, he said.

“The Cooper Landing Bypass has been recognized as a high priority project since 1978,” according to the priorities list. “At an estimated cost of $220-270 million, it is anticipate that the Federal Highway Trust Fund will be needed for much of the funding for the project.”

The priorities also focus on the environmental health and viability of the Kenai Peninsula, Navarre said.

Elodea eradication is a fairly young priority, identified in 2012, according to the priorities list. Elodea is an invasive water plant that can devastate fish habitat including spawning sites. Because so many of the affected waterways are on federal land, without some national intervention efforts, the overrun areas will cause “substantial and irreversible economic, social and cultural impacts.”

Federal Fishery Management and Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Endangered Species Act Listing and Research are also listed in the priorities, and the list was organized in no particular order, Navarre said.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulclarion.com.

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