Photo by Ben Boetgger/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Mayor Pat Porter listens as Kenai City Manager Rick Koch reads a letter of resignation at a Kenai City Council meeting Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at City Hall Council Chambers in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Ben Boetgger/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Mayor Pat Porter listens as Kenai City Manager Rick Koch reads a letter of resignation at a Kenai City Council meeting Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at City Hall Council Chambers in Kenai, Alaska.

Kenai manager Rick Koch resigns

Kenai City Manager Rick Koch, who has overseen the city’s administration since 2006, plans to resign effective the end of this year.

He read a resignation letter to the Kenai City Council at their Wednesday meeting.

“It is with no small measure of regret and excitement that I give you notice of my resignation as City Manager, effective Dec. 31, 2016,” Koch said, reading from his letter.

Koch replaced former Kenai City Manager Linda Snow in February 2006. Before beginning his 10-year tenure in Kenai, Koch spent six years as the public works director of Palmer, and before that had been the North Slope Borough’s head engineer, according to a 2006 Clarion report. He wrote in his letter that he is now resigning “a little over a year earlier than the remaining term of my employment contract” and will “develop a comprehensive transition plan and assist the Council and citizens of Kenai in the recruitment process for a new City Manager.”

This year, Koch will make his first run for a state-level political office — the Alaska House of Representatives seat for District 30, representing Kenai and Soldotna, and the Kalifornsky Beach area.

In their comments at the end of the meeting, council members praised Koch’s work for the city.

“Mr. Koch, it’s quite a surprise that you’ve been with the city even 10 years, which is quite beyond the life of an average city manager,” council member Henry Knackstedt said. “You’re certainly not average … I appreciate a lot of what you’ve done, many things for the airport, which has always been near and dear to me.”

Among other past municipal achievements, Koch’s resignation letter mentions the Kenai Municipal Airport’s self-funding revenues. He wrote that the Airport Permanent Fund, an investment fund, the interest earnings of which are dedicated to the airport, has grown since 2008 from $13 million to $23 million, “ensuring that the Kenai Municipal Airport is self-sustaining and is not subsidized by Kenai’s citizens.”

Council member Brian Gabriel said he appreciated Koch’s work on the city’s finances.

“I think the financial trajectory he’s put the city on is going to be sustaining, and I think that I lot of municipalities don’t have that,” Gabriel said.

Council member Tim Navarre mentioned Koch’s part in unsuccessful lobbying efforts to persuade the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Board of Fish to hold its 2017 Upper Cook Inlet Finfish meeting on the Kenai Peninsula. Koch has said Kenai residents should have more access to fish authorities because Kenai is disproportionately affected by the statewide personal-use fishery and other fishery issues.

“You’ve always been good counsel to us, especially when you spoke on behalf of this council, and one of the things is in the fisheries issue, and bringing the Board of Fish down here on the peninsula and that,” Navarre said.

Koch, trained as a civil engineer, filled the bulk of his two-page resignation letter with a recap of past and future Kenai municipal infrastructure projects and financial achievements. Among these were the city’s present construction of a million-gallon water storage reservoir, its ongoing collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers on a project to control erosion on the Kenai River bluffs and future refurbishments to the city wastewater plant, for which Kenai is scheduled to get state funding in this year’s state Capital Budget.

 

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

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