The sign outside Soldotna City Hall is seen here on July 16, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

The sign outside Soldotna City Hall is seen here on July 16, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna City Council votes to repeal emergency declaration and utility relief

The disaster declaration was enacted on March 19, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Soldotna City Council unanimously voted to repeal the city’s disaster emergency declaration ordinance during its meeting on Wednesday, sending it to public hearing on June 9. The motion passed 5-0.

The repeal was introduced by Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney. The disaster declaration was enacted on March 19, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council has voted to extend it on five additional occasions after it was initially enacted: last year on June 10, July 22, Oct. 14 and Dec. 31, and once more this year on March 24.

According to the official repeal ordinance 2021-011, the definition of the emergency declaration “means the condition declared by the principal executive officer of a political subdivision to designate the imminence or occurrence of a disaster.”

In an email Whitney sent to the council last week, he requested the members’ support in enacting the repeal.

“I believe the time has come to end the Citywide Disaster Emergency Declaration and return to some semblance of normalcy in our daily lives,” Whitney wrote. “The State of Alaska and many other communities within the State have ended their Disaster Emergency Declarations and I believe this is the time for Soldotna to do the same.”

If this emergency declaration is repealed on June 9, the utility ordinance 2021-012 — the temporary halt on water and sewer shutoffs due to the city’s emergency declaration during the COVID-19 pandemic — will also be affected.

The utility ordinance provided Soldotna residents some utility relief, not shutting off water or sewer if they were unable to pay it during the pandemic. That relief is set to expire once the disaster emergency declaration does. Soldotna residents with outstanding unpaid water and sewer bills will have 60 days to enter into a formal repayment plan with the city, which may not exceed two years.

The council originally voted to provide temporary utility relief on March 24, 2020, then passed by the Legislature on March 29, 2020 and signed into law by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on April 10, 2020. Last week Melanie Imholte, the Soldotna city finance director, sent an email to the mayor and city council regarding the moratorium on utility relief.

“The City’s disaster declaration is set to expire on June 9, 2021 at which time the City code requiring penalties to accrue on past due balances will apply,” the message said.

According to the email, there are currently around 25 utility customers that are more than three months past due on water and sewer bills.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Young to face off with a Begich yet again

Young, 88, seemed unfazed by Begich’s entry into the race.

A remote galaxy captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is greatly magnified and distorted by the effects of gravitationally warped space. (Image via NASA)
Grant brings NASA to library

The grant supports science, technology, engineering, arts and math programming for patrons.

A spruce bark beetle is seen on the underside of a piece of bark taken from logs stacked near Central Peninsula Landfill on Thursday, July 1, 2021 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
State urges driver caution at Bing’s Landing this week due to work

The work is part of the State of Alaska’s efforts to mitigate the spruce beetle outbreak on the Kenai Peninsula.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion 
A chicken eats kale inside of a chicken house at Diamond M Ranch on April 1 off Kalifornsky Beach Road. The ranch receives food scraps from the public as part a community program aimed at recovering food waste and keeping compostable material out of the landfill.
More food for the chickens

Central peninsula group awarded grant to expand composting efforts

The Little Alaskan children’s store is seen in Kenai on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. Located where Bargain Basement used to be in Kenai, the shop opened this weekend. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Little’ shop goes big

Little Alaskan occupies the space where Bargain Basement used to be in Kenai.

Nurses Melissa Pancoast and Kathi Edgell work shifts at the intesive care unit at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna on Sept. 22. October was the deadliest month so far for COVID-19 deaths at CPH, with 11 of 30 deaths that have taken place at the hospital since the beginning of the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Chief Nursing Officer Karen Scoggins)
‘The deadliest month we’ve had’

One-third of total COVID deaths at CPH took place in the last month.

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. A kiosk that will offer educational programming and interpretive products about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is coming to the airport. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsua Clarion)
Wildlife refuge kiosk coming to airport

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stickers, T-shirts, magnets, travel stamps and enamel pins will be available.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
5 more COVID deaths reported

The total nationwide fatalities surpass population of Alaska.

Most Read