Qualified voters will decide on February 3, 2015, if Soldotna will form a charter commission, and if a commission is formed, who its members will be.
Only one resident turned up at Wednesday’s public hearing for the ballot ordinance that was unanimously approved by city council. David Lynch said he wasn’t there to speak for against home rule, but to ask a few questions.
Lynch was curious why both the option for creating a charter commission and electing its members would be on the same ballot. He said his concern was that it seemed unnecessary to have the commission candidates up for election when the development of a charter may not even be approved.
City Manager Mark Dixson said it was required by state law the ballot be set up that way.
“That’s not under our control,” Dixson said.
Only if voters approve the first section of the ballot—whether or not to form a charter commission—will seven members be elected to it, said City Clerk Shellie Saner.
Lynch also asked if home rule was being consideration because of the recent Alaska Supreme Court decision in Price v. Kenai Peninsula Borough et al.
The decision could lead to a repeal by voter approval of the Kenai Peninsula Borough food-tax that allows Soldotna to collect a year-round tax on non-prepared food items.
Anderson said that was not the case.
Another reason for the consideration is that the council has been unable to make exceptions to city commission rulings without meeting extensive requirements set by state law, he said.
Anderson was referring to the current situation with Soldotna resident Jerry Farrington, who was denied approval for a driveway expansion by the Planning and Zoning commission.
The fastest way to remedy the issue was completed by council member Linda Murphy who submitted an ordinance that would increase the amount of driveway space residents can expand on their property.
“We want to get rid of those (state laws) and let the city set those up rather than be functioning under those rules, which I find to be onerous and non-applicable in a personal manner,” Anderson said.
Council member Keith Baxter spoke with Lynch, and said Lynch was eligible to be on the commission if he wished to run for a seat.
If approved the commission will have one year from the date of the election to bring forward a charter before voters, Saner said
Mayor Nels Anderson said he hopes that city employees and city council members will consider serving on the commission.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at email@example.com