While work on the Soldotna High School track and artificial turf field began last week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough is still finalizing funding sources.
A laydown ordinance was introduced at the April 15 borough assembly meeting to make up the nearly $300,000 shortfall. It calls for funds to be appropriated from the borough’s general fund and redirected from other school capital projects.
The state granted the borough $3.1 million for both the Kenai Central High School track and field and the SoHi track projects in one lump sum during the 2012 legislative session. The grant did not include any specifications for how many dollars were to be put toward each project, borough Chief of Staff Paul Ostrander said. The state appropriated an additional $1.5 million in 2013 just for SoHi’s turf projects.
After completion of the Kenai project, about $2.4 million of state money remained for the SoHi project, which is estimated to cost about $2.7 million.
“We were hopeful right up to the very end that we were going to be able to land the project with the money that was available,” Ostrander said, “but we’re about $300,000 short of being able to award and construct that track and field.”
Ostrander said there are three components to the project and each will have a separate contract. The first is the civil engineering and pre-turf installation work, which includes excavation of the current track and field and drainage system installation. The second phase is the track installation and the final is the field installation. Ostrander said the project is set to be completed before the first scheduled football game.
He said price to construct the project hasn’t increased, but the borough received $300,000 less funding than it had hoped.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation did not award a $200,000 grant to the project, which the borough had anticipated receiving. Community and fiscal projects manager, Brenda Ahlberg, applies for all grants through the borough. The Kenai turf project, completed last year, received a grant from the foundation for $200,000. Ostrander said he heard the foundation’s grant program has changed since Kenai was awarded the money.
However, Krista Washington, marketing and communications coordinator with the foundation said its funding policies haven’t changed.
“We do have a very competitive process and we’d love to fund everyone, if we could, but we can’t,” Washington said.
Ostrander said the borough was also hoping to receive money from the City of Soldotna and said that is still a potential funding source.
Soldotna City Manager Mark Dixson said the council has not appropriated any funds for the project at this time. He said while the issue isn’t on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, he intends to discuss it, if time allows.
According to a memo to the assembly, the maintenance department determined that a total of $165,000 can be utilized from three other school projects and appropriated to the SoHi turf project.
The department calls for redirecting $75,000 originally for playground upgrades, $50,000 that was for bleacher replacements and $40,000 left over from intercom system upgrades.
Ostrander said the borough was not going to complete the area wide bleacher and playground projects in fiscal year 2014 so those were excess appropriations. Additional funding will be allocated for the projects if they are of a high enough priority for fiscal year 2015.
The intercom system project has been completed as a lower cost than originally anticipated, Ostrander said, so the $40,000 was leftover money from the upgrade.
According to the memo, the administration is requesting the remaining $135,000 come from the borough’s general fund.
The ordinance is scheduled for a shortened hearing at the May 6 assembly meeting in Soldotna.