Soldotna to host annexation open house

After hearing the findings of an economic feasibility study, city of Soldotna staff will host an open house next week for the public to learn about and discuss annexation.

Anchorage-based consultant group Northern Economics was hired to analyze the fiscal effects annexation would have on the city and began work about a year ago. The final document was submitted June 9, said Jonathan King, Northern Economics’ vice president and senior economist who presented the findings at a work session before the Soldotna City Council’s Wednesday meeting. The study is available on the city’s website.

The study analyzed nine geographic areas outside Soldotna to see how their annexation would affect the city financially. When the annual revenue-to-cost ratios for all nine areas were combined in the study, it was found Soldotna would gain about $350,000 a year, based on 2015 data, by annexing all the areas.

With the economic analysis complete, it is now up to the city to decide whether to go forward and seek annexation of any of the geographic areas looked at in the study, King said. The city would have to draft a petition that would go to the Local Boundary Commission, which has the final say over whether a city can annex areas outside its limits.

Several area residents and commercial property owners attended the council’s work session. Patricia Patterson, who owns commercial property within the Kenai Spur study area but does not live there, said she feels the discussion is too focused on the economics of annexation and not enough on other factors.

Patterson said she would like more discussion about need for government in the geographic areas studied and what it means for businesses and residents in them.

“I would like to see the direction of annexation be more about the community that they are creating and less about how much money they’re going to be making,” Patterson said. “I just would love to see the direction be about how are they going to bring me into the community as a commercial business, bring me in as an active community member instead of how much money I can bring them.”

Presenters at the work session said communities pursuing annexation are required to hold at least one public meeting, but that the Local Boundary Commission suggests they initiate far more community involvement.

The city will host a public open house to present and discuss the economic study’s findings from 4-7 p.m. June 30 at the River Center in Soldotna.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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