An ordinance changing service board elections to appointments was postponed until November at Tuesday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting.
The move was made to allow for local service area boards to make recommendations on the ordinance.
The borough has 12 service boards, of which seven boards include elected positions. Historically, it has been difficult to find qualified candidates willing to run for service board seats, an Aug. 22 memo to the assembly from assembly members Willy Dunne and Brent Hibbert said.
“The borough is one of the few boroughs, if not the only, in the State of Alaska with elected service area boards,” the memo said.
Changing from elected boards to appointed boards will significantly reduce the time and expense involved in borough elections, the ordinance said.
The assembly was scheduled to vote on the ordinance during Tuesday’s meeting, but assembly member Hal Smalley moved to postpone the decision until the Nov. 5 meeting, allowing the service area boards to weigh in.
Earlier this summer, the Election Stakeholders Group — a group established by the assembly to research ways to increase voter participation — published their final report and recommendations.
One of their six specific recommendations asks the borough to appoint service board members, rather than hold elections.
“Appointed boards have proven to increase public interest in service on a board as potential board members would not have to run or otherwise comply with the election process requirements,” the memo said.
The clerk’s office has indicated thousands of dollars could be saved by eliminating the seats from the election process.
Cost savings would come from a reduction in printing costs and the time required of election officials and the clerk’s office when it comes to reviewing ballots, the memo said.
The ordinance said the appointment process will remain a public process, where openings will be advertised and the mayor will appoint interested applicants and the assembly confirms the appointment.