Nikiski incorporation effort pauses for thought

Editor’s note: This story has been changed to correct inaccuracies about effects on the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s tax base if Nikiski incorporated with the proposed boundaries and about the borough assembly’s August 1 action on a resolution supporting incorporation by Nikiski representative Wayne Ogle. The assembly approved Ogle’s motion to table the resolution indefinitely.   

Proponents of incorporating Nikiski plan to make their case again before the Local Boundary Commission — the state agency that must approve a new city — in October 2018.

After the Commission’s staff gave an unfavorable review of Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation’s proposal for a 5,480 square-mile city, and the Commission later denied their request to restart the process, the citizen group requested a year-long postponement to change their proposal.

Commission Chair Lynn Chrystal granted the postponement on Oct. 6.

The current initiative formally began with Citizens for Nikiski’s December 2016 petition detailing a proposed city of Nikiski whose borders crossed Cook Inlet and included the village of Tyonek. After Local Boundary Commission staff concluded in a preliminary review that the proposal failed state incorporation requirements, Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation requested a fresh start with a potentially new petition. On Aug. 31 the five governor-appointed Local Boundary Commissioners unanimously voted against the restart, which could have allowed Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation to alter the petition without the consent of the 336 Nikiski residents who signed it.

In their May 2017 preliminary report recommending against the incorporation, the Local Boundary Commission’s staff wrote that the proposal “seeks more than it proposes to offer” in terms of government services and that its proposed borders — following those of the borough’s Nikiski Fire and Emergency Service Area — would create a municipality slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut in which 95 percent of its approximately 5,900 people would live in 1.5 percent of its area.

Tyonek and the Kenai Peninsula Borough both opposed Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation’s plan. Among the borough’s reasons for opposition are taxes. Some of the borough’s biggest tax payers fall within the proposed boundaries. In an August 1 Policies and Procedures meeting in which Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre opposed a resolution of support for Nikiski’s incorporation, Navarre said that oil and gas and industrial entities within the proposed city boundary, whose facilities would be excluded from the borough-wide Road Service Area, contribute about 32.5 percent of the service area’s budget, requiring a borough mill-rate increase to compensate for. Citizens for Nikiski has contested this number, stating that the lost Road Service Area revenue would be closer to 11.5 percent. After the committee discussion, Nikiski’s assembly representative Wayne Ogle — who had introduced the resolution — tabled it indefinitely. 

Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation’s co-vice-chair Paul Huber wrote in a press release that the group is preparing to discuss concerns.

“During the coming year, these issues will be addressed in order to provide a stronger petition that has a greater reflection of the historical symbiotic relationship that Nikiski has with industry throughout its service areas and a charter that more closely considers the desires and needs of the community of Nikiski now and into the future,” Huber wrote.

After the postponement ends on Oct. 12, 2018, Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation will be able to submit a draft petition to the Local Boundary Commission, whose chair will decide if the changes warrant another signature collection, according to an email from Local Boundary Commission program manager Melissa Taylor. If so, the new petition will need signatures from 15 percent of Nikiski’s 1,908 registered voters — 286 — and a majority of them must be people who also signed the original.

Huber and Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation’s other co-vice-chair, Stacy Oliva, have previously argued that under Alaska statute the Local Boundary Commission staff should have returned the petition to the group before judging it insufficient in the preliminary report — a complaint the Commission hasn’t addressed. A Sept. 22 reply to the preliminary report, signed by Oliva, states that its findings “are clearly written with an extreme bias against incorporation of the Nikiski community.”

 

Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation hasn’t decided whether to put amending its petition on hold until questions about the preliminary report are answered. Its reply to the Commission states that comments were “being offered as a formality.”

“The Petitioners’ Representatives and supporters are seriously weighing the merits of amendment of the Petition; and do not want to utilize more of the scarce resources available than necessary to defend the Petition from the flawed Preliminary Report,” the response states.

On the other hand, Huber wrote in Incorporate Nikiski’s press release that the question of whether the petition had been unfairly processed is “foundationally important.”

“Without resolution in these critical areas, any future amendment may continue to experience the impasses that our original petition encountered,” he wrote.

Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation continues having weekly meetings, Oliva said, and will plan out its next moves over the coming weeks.

“Obviously the one-year extension gives ample time for community involvement and a chance to get with the Local Boundary Commission and ask these questions, and work step-by-step with them for a successful situation,” Oliva said.

Once the Local Boundary Commission approves its petition, Nikiski would be able to incorporate with a vote of the residents in the proposed city boundaries.

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Local candidates report support from state PACs

Labor unions and the National Education Association are among the groups putting money into Kenai Peninsula state election races

Signs and examples on the recycling super sack at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio show which plastics are desired as part of the project in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 11, 2022. Plastics from types 1, 2, 4 and 5 can be deposited.(Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local nonprofit accepting plastics for synthetic lumber project

The super sack receptacles can be found on either side of Soldotna

This July 28, 2022, photo shows drag queen Dela Rosa performing in a mock election at Cafecito Bonito in Anchorage, Alaska, where people ranked the performances by drag performers. Several organizations are using different methods to teach Alaskans about ranked choice voting, which will be used in the upcoming special U.S. House election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Groups get creative to help Alaska voters with ranked voting

Organizations have gotten creative in trying to help voters understand how to cast their ballot, as the mock election featuring drag performers shows

A school bus outside of Kenai Central High School advertises driver positions on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Staff shortage, gas prices change school bus routes

The changes do not apply to the district’s special education students

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The show goes on as Triumvirate seeks funding for new theater

The troupe has staged shows and events and is looking to debut a documentary as it raise funds for new playhouse

Aaron Surma, the executive director for National Alliance on Mental Illness Juneau and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, leads a safety plan workshop Tuesday night hosted by NAMI and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition. The workshop was a collaborative brainstorming session with Juneau residents about how to create a safety plan that people can use to help someone who is experiencing a mental health or suicide crisis. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Study shows a rise in anxiety and depression among children in Alaska

Increase may indicate growing openness to discussing mental health, according to experts

Alaska Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer addresses election information and misinformation during a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. (Screenshot)
With a week to go, officials work to clear up election confusion

Officials provided updated ballot statistics, fielded questions from reporters and clarified misconceptions about the current election cycle

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 21 new COVID deaths; cases down from last week

20 of the reported deaths took place from May to July

A closeup of one of the marijuana plants at Greatland Ganja in Kasilof, Alaska, as seen on March 19, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly streamlines process for marijuana establishment license applications

License applications will now go straight to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for consideration

Most Read