Western Emergency Services logo. (Courtesy image)

Western Emergency Services logo. (Courtesy image)

Deadline extended for transfer of assets for Western Emergency Services

Borough’s legal department says more time is needed for proper transfer

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly took another step toward finalizing the creation of the new Western Emergency Service Area, which will cover fires and medical emergencies in both Anchor Point and Ninilchik.

Voters from both communities approved the new combined service area in the October election. It will be created by combining the resources of the currently independent Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area and Ninilchik Emergency Services. The Anchor Point department is already an established service area under the borough’s purview, sustained by a mill rate set on property taxes, while Ninilchik Emergency Services has been run independently by a nonprofit up until now.

At their Tuesday meeting, members of the assembly passed an ordinance through their consent agenda that approves the transfer of assets from Ninilchik Emergency Services to the borough, to allow them to be combined with the assets of the Anchor Point department. In an amendment made by assembly member Tyson Cox, the deadline to transfer those assets was extended from Jan. 31 to April 20.

In a memo to the assembly provided through Mayor Charlie Pierce, Deputy Borough Attorney Patty Burley explained that the borough needs more time to work through the list of assets from the Ninilchik department. The borough and Ninilchik Emergency Services have been working cooperatively to identify and transfer all assets since July, she wrote, but a lot of the work could not start until voter approval in October 2020.

The assets currently held by Ninilchik Emergency Services include the station building itself, a training cabin, firefighting vehicles, a utility trailer, a “SnowBulance,” medical equipment, tools, CPR dummies, computers and more, according to an inventory list included in the assembly meeting documents.

“The transfer of assets is not as simple as signing over a building,” Burley wrote in the memo. “Transferring assets involves a multitude of borough departments such as finance, IT, legal, risk, lands and human resources just to name a few. An extensive checklist of the items which have to be completed in order to effectuate the transfer was prepared and is diligently being pursued, but time is needed to ensure that all is done properly.”

While the borough has been completing items on the checklist of what needs to get done to complete the transfer, Burley wrote that the recent holidays and COVID-19 closures have made it more difficult to contact necessary agencies outside of the borough and Ninilchik Emergency Services.

“For these reasons more time is requested to properly complete the tasks necessary to ensure that the transfer is a successful one for both agencies,” Burley wrote. “Additionally, more time is needed to finalize an asset transfer agreement.”

According to the amendments Cox made to the ordinance on Tuesday, failure to transfer the Ninilchik Emergency Services assets to the borough by the April 20 deadline would “render the creation of the Western Emergency Service Area null and void.”

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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