Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion The view of north beach from Eric Hansen Scout Park in Kenai Sunday. The city council amended and passed a resolution for fee charges to the dipnet fishery.

Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion The view of north beach from Eric Hansen Scout Park in Kenai Sunday. The city council amended and passed a resolution for fee charges to the dipnet fishery.

Kenai adjusts dipnet fees

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Sunday, April 6, 2014 10:05pm
  • News

As the Kenai River personal use fishery has grown over the years, the City of Kenai has had to adapt with it.

In an effort to clarify confusion on the fishery use fee structure, the Kenai City Council amended and approved a resolution to enact fee changes for the 2014 personal use fishery at the April 2 meeting.

Finance director Terry Eubank said one of the biggest misunderstandings people had last year was how a vehicle parking fee was not included in the camping fee.

For parking at both the north and south beaches users paid $20 from midnight to midnight. For participants with a vehicle or two all-terrain vehicles, camping is now defined as overnight parking with a cost of $55. Combining vehicle parking and camping fees into one fee is expected to eliminate the confusion, he said.

Eubank said he saw the young adults who operated the fee shacks bullied by fishery users over because of the confusion with fees.

One of the proposals the council were at odds with was the addition of a $10 vehicle or all-terrain vehicle drop-off or pick-up fee.

City Manager Rick Koch said over the last few years the city has became aware of users being dropped off and avoiding paying fees for use of city services. The intention of having a drop-off fee is to make sure everybody who uses the dipnet services are charged accordingly, he said.

With more users being dropped off, another benefit would be a reduction of congestion on city streets caused by vehicles parking, he said.

Council member Ryan Marquis said he would have a hard time supporting a drop-off fee because it could be charging the wrong people. He asked why charge drivers dropping off dipnet users for using city services, if the drivers may not be using the services themselves. He said it is easy to lose sight of all the benefits in sales tax the city receives from the influx of fishery users.

“We need to try to figure out ways to take advantage, not take it for granted,” he said. “We want people to spend money while they’re here and share with the private sector, not all with the government.”

The council amended and approved fees, rates and charges for the 2014 personal use fishery by a 7-1 vote. Marquis cast the lone no vote.

Boyle motioned to delete the $10 drop-off fee. The council voted 6-2 to remove the $10 fee. Mayor Pat Porter and council member Brian Gabriel voted against the amendment to remove the drop-off fee.

Gabriel said the city is close to a break-even point in running the fishery. The city expends money before the fishery even starts without knowing how the season will pan out, he said. If the city doesn’t cover the expenses, the residents could be stuck to cover the costs.

Gabriel said over the years dipnet users have found creative ways to avoid fee stations. With Kenai residents making up only 5 percent of all dipnet users, he said he didn’t think it is fair for them to subsidize the cost.

“We have higher participation rates but are generating less revenue,” he said. “If we don’t cover our expenses, City of Kenai residents foot the bill and I don’t think they should have to do that.”

Koch said it is the city’s intention to collect more fees from all participants, not to increase the price of fees.

Council member Terry Bookey said more fees could cause other problems with people finding other ways to get to the beach as cheaply as possible.

Porter said it is important to her that Kenai residents not have to pay for the fishery while the people who try to avoid fees get charged for the services they use.

“Its like getting into the movie theater and not paying for it,” she said. “We don’t ask for the fee because we want to. If we didn’t charge, our beaches would be a mess.”

Porter recommended city attorney Scott Bloom look at what the city can offer residents to access the fishery for free.

The council also unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibited camping, fires and parking on a section of south beach during dipnet season, in response to the complaints of private property owners. The prohibited area goes from the city boundary line at Old Cannery Road and extends north to the most northerly residence, an area of 2,200 lineal feet.

The ordinance suggested by Porter and Navarre is intended to decrease conflicts between private property owners and the public, decrease risks to environmentally sensitive areas and increase the city’s efficiency in cleanup.

The next council meeting is at 7 p.m. April 16 at Kenai City Hall.

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

A cruise ship is docked in Seward, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Cruise passengers encouraged to test before docking in Seward

The request comes as new COVID cases are increasing in Alaska

In this July 13, 2007, photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing restrictions that would hinder plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. It is the latest in a long-running dispute over efforts by developers to advance a mine in a region known for its salmon runs. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
Restrictions proposed in Pebble Mine fight

Critics of the project called the move an important step in a yearslong fight to stop the mine

Armands Veksejs, Hager Elserry, Dady Thitisakulwong, and Haewon Hong attend a farewell potluck barbecue in Nikiski on Monday, May 23, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A life in a year’

Foreign exchange students receive send-off in Nikiski

A man fishes in the Kenai River on July 16, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion/file)
Ninilchik River and Deep Creek to open sport fishing

Sport fishing will be open for three upcoming weekends

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, stands in the Peninsula Clarion offices on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Micciche will not seek reelection

His announcement comes a week after the end of the 32nd Alaska Legislature

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska redistricting board picks new Senate map after Supreme Court finds a gerrymander

The board could continue work and possibly write a different map for the elections from 2024 onward

A landslide blocks Lowell Point Road in Seward, Alaska, on Sunday, May 8, 2022. (Photo courtesy City of Seward)
Lowell Point Road to reopen Friday

Intermittent blasting work will continue next week

Members of the Kenai City Council participate in a council meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Boys and girls clubs land donation postponed

The issue will be back before the body on June 1

Most Read