During what Mayor Nels Anderson called the “shortest meeting ever,” Soldotna City Council members unanimously approved ordinances allowing fires at Arc Lake park, adding money to the airport fund and allocating $7,500 toward efforts to influence the outcome of a citizen referendum to repeal the city’s ability to collect sales tax on non-prepared food during nine months of the year.
Council member and mayoral candidate Pete Sprague offered the ordinance to amend city code on Arc Lake after he noticed more activity in the area.
“I noticed several months ago that in our code the fires were prohibited … so I went up and looked at Arc Lake and there was a bench and a fire ring on the beach which is specifically against what our city code says,” Sprague said.
The area is opened to year-round fishing and the city maintains an ice skating area on the lake as well, according to Sprague’s memo on the ordinance.
The city also appropriated a $16,771 grant for the 2014 asphalt rehab and apron expansion at Soldotna airport.
City Engineer Kyle Kornelis told the council that the FAA contacted the city and notified it of additional funds available for the city’s grant application.
The 2014 project was funded primarily by FAA grant funds, while the city and state split just over 7 percent of the total cost of $536,667, according to the ordinance.
The airport commission met on August 20 and council member Keith Baxter said a final draft of chapter two of its new master plan is newly available and can be gotten from Kornelis.
“There will be a public outreach meeting conducted after all of the sections of this new plan are drafted,” Baxter said.
The council also approved money toward the city’s efforts to sway the outcome KPB Prop No. 1 which it estimates could cost the city between $1,050,000 to $1,200,000 in sales tax revenue annually.
City council candidate and frequent commentator Fred Sturman said he believed the city should not be collecting more tax than it needs.
“I looked over the information that you guys put out the other day and you know, you’re saying you’re going to lose a million dollars a year. It seems like the past few years you guys have been receiving a little over more than a million in your budget more than what you need,” Sturman said. “I don’t think you need the money. I think the people need the money and the community, more than the city.”
Sturman said he hoped that if the council approved spending the money, it would also make sure that the information it put out on the ballot initiative was accurate and thorough.
Soldotna resident Tim Cashman said he supported the idea of the council appropriating money to educate city residents about sales tax revenue and how it affects the city’s budget.
“The way I look at this issue, it’s either a reduction in services or an increase in taxes somewhere else. That’s just my concern,” he said.
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