Flowers bloom at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Flowers bloom at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna approves capital budget

The budget will pay for multiple big city projects over the next 11 months

The Soldotna City Council on Wednesday approved what one city official called a “significantly” smaller capital project budget that will pay for multiple big city projects over the next 11 months.

In all, the spending plan approved by council members designates $105,000 for capital projects in fiscal year 2024, which started on July 1 and ends on June 30, 2024.

Of that, $50,000 is going to the Soldotna Police Department for the implementation of new body cameras and $30,000 will plan the future of refrigeration at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Soldotna Public Works Director Kyle Kornelis told council members on Wednesday that the City of Soldotna was a leader in Alaska when it comes to the use of police body cameras. However, the department’s technology is now aging.

“They are now antiquated and no longer supported to the degree that we need them to,” Kornelis said of the cameras. “This would enable us to implement the purchase of those new body-worn cameras as well as the connectivity through FirstNet.”

Also aging, Kornelis said, is Soldotna’s system for refrigerating the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. The city currently uses R22 Freon at the facility, but Kornelis said it will soon be illegal to produce or import the material in the United States. Although Soldotna has an “ample supply” for now, he said it’s time for the city to start planning for alternatives.

The document approved by council members on Wednesday also puts $10,000 toward Soldotna’s Riverfront Redevelopment Project and $15,000 will be used for the city’s ongoing Storefront Improvement Program.

The Riverfront Redevelopment Project, which kicked off last summer after the City of Soldotna received a federal grant to begin planning efforts, would redevelop 85 acres of land between the Sterling Highway and the Kenai River in Soldotna. Money included in the budget document will pay for an appraisal report and further public engagement meetings.

The city’s Storefront Improvement Program reimburses up to 50% of the cost of eligible storefront improvements to Soldotna businesses up to $7,500. Work eligible for the program includes the rehabilitation of building facades visible to the street such as storefronts, signs, windows and exterior lighting, among others.

Wednesday’s Soldotna City Council meeting can be streamed on the city’s YouTube channel.

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

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