Kenai council looks to support funding for KPC, Wildwood

Kenai council looks to support funding for KPC, Wildwood

Closing the sentenced facility would cause the loss of about 46 full-time positions at the jail

The Kenai City Council will look at two resolutions Wednesday night that ask them to support local entities in the face of state budget cuts.

The resolutions on the docket ask the Kenai City Council to show support for the Kenai Peninsula College and the Wildwood Correctional Complex in light of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

The budget includes a $19 million cut to the Department of Corrections and would close the sentenced facilities at Wildwood.

“Closing the sentenced facility would cause the loss of about 46 full time positions at the jail,” said Council Member Robert Peterkin in a letter to the council. “Many of these employees live in Kenai with their families. The closure would cause economic hardship and may require residents to relocate for other job opportunities. Additionally several local businesses provide services to the facility and these businesses would lose that opportunity.”

Peterkin also argued that the governor’s proposal, which includes shipping inmates out of state instead of Wildwood, doesn’t necessary ensure savings for Alaska. Wildwood has the second-lowest inmate cost per day in the state at $104.21 and the cost per day of housing inmates out of state is still unknown, according to Peterkin.

“Further Wildwood has many services provided by various community organizations, including counseling and work opportunities that reduce recidivism,” Peterkin wrote. “To the contrary, prisoners sent out of state and housed with other out of state prisoners often return to Alaska with less chance of succeeding outside the criminal system then when they left.”

The council will also look at a resolution asking them to show support for the Kenai Peninsula College, which is facing a potential closure with the governor’s proposed funding for the University of Alaska system.

The college, which enrolls 5,700 students annually, is the largest University of Alaska community campus.

“Over the past three years, the Kenai Peninsula College has continued to work more efficiently with reductions in staff and increasing revenue by adding additional non-credit workforce development classes for professionals and educational summer camps for middle and high school students,” wrote Vice Mayor Tim Navarre in a letter to the council. “The impact of a potential closure of the Kenai River Campus goes beyond displacing students, faculty and staff. The economic impacts are difficult to measure, but the community would lose the availability of quality educational opportunities.”

The council will look at both resolutions during their meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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