Soldotna continues annexation discussion

The discussion of Soldotna’s potential annexation is moving out of city council chambers.

As of Sept. 1, an online forum is available for community members, business owners and interested parties to express their opinions and concerns with the potential annexation of areas adjacent to the city. A series of in-person discussions will also start on Sept. 27 at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Anyone interested in participating in the online conversation can visit https://soldotna.consider.it.

The website highlights Envision Soldotna 2030, the city’s comprehensive plan, citing the vision’s highest priority goals which “are to promote orderly high-quality development, cost-effective extension of public services, opportunities for large-scale developments requiring larger parcels, protection of the City’s sales tax base, and protection of the natural environment.”

Annexation is one of the city’s possible strategies to achieve these goals.

The city has hired The Athena Group, a consulting agency based in Olympia, Washington, to facilitate the discussion, both online and at the several planned open houses and community conversations.

So far, the online conversation has sparked some ideas, according to Meagan Picard of The Athena Group.

“One person noted that annexation would change borough residents’ way of life, saying, ‘The reality is the town lifestyle is in stark contrast to the out of town lifestyle.’ We hope to hear more about this – specifically, how is life different for city versus borough residents and businesses?” Picard said in an email.

A second commenter was worried about Soldotna’s three percent sales tax, which would be included in newly annexed businesses. The commenter said that the taxation could lead to business closures.

“We appreciate that this issue was raised and would like to hear from some of these businesses directly: is this a real possibility?” Picard said.

According to Picard, particpants could be rewarded for their comments.

Book bags will be handed out to the first 50 particpants that access the online forum using Soldotna Public Library computers, or those that get assistance from the staff at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

Ice skating coupons will be given to every 50 participants that share their views, regardless of how they access the website site.

Prizes will also be raffled off during the in-person conversations, which will be held at the Gilman River Center on Sept. 28 or on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 at the Soldotna Public Library.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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