Incoming KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland Testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Incoming KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland Testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Public to weigh in on budget at upcoming assembly meeting

Departments have been working with the borough to craft their budgets over the past several months, and have outlined their goals heading into the next fiscal year.

A public hearing on the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s FY22 budget will be held during the assembly’s June 1 meeting. FY22 refers to the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2021 and ending on June 30, 2022. Departments have been working with the borough to craft their budgets over the past several months, and have outlined their goals heading into the next fiscal year.

Mayor’s Office

Among the new initiatives the mayor’s office outlined for FY22 are asking voters if they support bonding for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s major capital projects, updating borough wildfire protection plans and funding and providing incentives for more charter, private and home-school programs for families.

In reflecting on their accomplishments over the past fiscal year, the mayor’s office cited the distribution of $37.5 million in CARES Act funding, creating a lands agricultural initiative and completing the construction of the Funny River Transfer Facility, among other things.

Long-term issues and concerns include revenue loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining election integrity and implementing the borough’s new system, creating solutions to reduce health care costs and funding school district capital projects without accruing any new debt.

Office of Emergency Management

Continuing to manage and support COVID-19 vaccinations is among the OEM’s initiatives for FY22. The borough has assisted with several large-scale vaccine clinics since vaccines became available, including at the Soldotna Prep building in partnership with the City of Soldotna and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.

The department’s response to the pandemic, however, was also identified by the borough budget document as one of its long-term issues and concerns. Specifically, it was noted that continued mitigation efforts and vaccine distribution require significant time and resources and there is no known end date.

Elections

The borough will also work to bring itself into compliance with the Alaska Human Rights Commission’s Conciliation Agreement, which requires the borough to make voting equipment that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act available to borough voters. In reflecting on FY21, the budget notes that CARES Act funds saw the successful implementation of an absentee-by-mail campaign as well as the creation of an online absentee-by-mail application portal.

Identified as long-term concerns in the budget are acquiring election software that complies with the ADA, monitoring federal laws that affect state and local elections and recruiting “competent” election workers for October elections, among others.

Public comment on the borough budget, as well as on other agenda items, can be submitted in advance of the assembly’s June 1 meeting or in person at the meeting. The borough’s FY22 budget draft can be found on the borough website at kpb.us.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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