The $444.3 million reduction in unrestricted general fund spending in the amended budget proposal that Governor Bill Walker released on Thursday could make a large difference for projects in the Kenai Peninsula. The state’s fiscal year 2015 budget funded 94 projects in the Kenai Peninsula. The 2016 budget will fund four.
Walker’s budget details the amount of state and federal money that will be given to municipal and borough projects throughout Alaska. The fiscal year 2015 budget, which runs from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015, appropriated a total of $594.8 million from the state’s unrestricted general fund. The newly released 2016 budget appropriates a total of $150.3 million in unrestricted general fund money.
The Kenai area, encompassing House Districts 29, 30 and 31, will receive a total of $9.9 million, which includes money from the state’s unrestricted general fund and federal government money distributed by the state. $1.9 million from the state’s unrestricted general fund will go toward improving water storage and distribution infrastructure in Homer. All other Kenai funding will be federal money given through the Alaska Department of Transportation to two road improvement projects in Kenai and one in Seward, totaling $8 million.
The Homer waterline improvement, intended to provide water to currently unserved Homer residences, is part of a municipal matching grant provided through the Department of Environmental Conservation, which requires a 30 percent contribution from Homer. The Kenai projects improve two state-owned roads, the Kenai Spur Highway and Beaver Loop Road. Kenai has an agreement to take over the maintenance of Beaver Loop Road after the end of the state improvements, according to Kenai City manager Rick Koch.
“I’m happy that those survived,” Koch said.
The Governor’s amended budget will next be debated and potentially modified by the Legislature.
Reach Ben Boettger at firstname.lastname@example.org.