A sign notifies the public of the special election at Soldotna City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 3

A sign notifies the public of the special election at Soldotna City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 3

Soldotna voters reject home rule

  • By IAN FOLEY
  • Tuesday, February 3, 2015 9:47pm
  • News

Soldotna voters ended the possibility of the city becoming home rule in the near future.

During Tuesday’s special election, voters chose not to form a seven-member charter commission that would have drafted the parameters of how Soldotna would govern itself under home rule status.

The question on the ballot read, “Shall a Charter Commission be elected to prepare a proposed charter?” Unofficial results show “No” votes at 298 while “Yes” votes came in at 170.

The seven commissioner candidates on the ballot were Jerry Farrington, Keith Baxter, Dale Bagley, Peggy Mullen, Pete Sprague, Patrick Cowan and Dan Nelson.

Had they been elected, the commissioners would have had one year to draft a home rule charter for the public to vote on. Being home rule would have given Soldotna greater autonomy, enabling the city to determine tax rates, and a variety of other issues.

According to Bagley, the push for home rule was a result of the city’s grocery tax possibly being repealed later this year. Because Soldotna will remain a first class city, there is the possibility of a proposition passing on October’s ballot that would eliminate a tax on non-prepared food items.

City council member Keith Baxter, said that without the tax on non-prepared foods, the city could lose between $785,000 to $1.2 million in tax revenue. Baxter said without home rule, the city council was prepared to discuss the possibility of raising property tax to make up for the lost revenue.

During election day, voters had varied opinions on Soldotna potentially becoming home rule and the special election.

Soldotna voter Randy Richeson said he was against special elections.

“I don’t like the idea of a special election,” Richeson said. “We just had an election not long ago. They could have presented the idea then, and they would have had more voters show up and we would have had a real election rather than just slide something through when nobody’s looking.”

Soldotna resident Tim Cashman said he voted in favor of forming a commission because he wants Soldotna to be a home rule city.

“I believe the city needs the ability to self-govern and to set its own tax rates,” Cashman said.

Cashman said that having certain sales tax was important, because it allows the city to collect revenue from not only citizens, but visitors as well.

“I think it would be very harmful for 4,000 residents to pick up the cost of millions of people who pass through Soldotna annually.” Cashman said. “People come here and they pay sales tax and it benefits the facilities – our world class parks, the library – anything that’s here is for everybody to use. There’s no admission (fee). That’s offset by the sales tax.”

Other voters, like Eva Knutson, wanted to see a charter before deciding on the home rule issue. “I’d like to see the commission actually be formed to explore the idea of (home rule). Knutson said. “I don’t think there was a lot of information about home rule in general going into this election. We heard about it because of the “No” signs, and we had to research into it on our own.”

Reach Ian Foley at Ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna bumps vote on use of accessory housing as short-term rentals

An accessory dwelling unit is a subordinate, detached dwelling unit located on a lot or parcel with an existing residence

Foliage surrounds the Soldotna Police Department sign on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Foliage surrounds the Soldotna Police Department sign on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Law enforcement to host women’s self-defense class in January

Within 48 hours of the course being advertised, 120 women had signed up to participate

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Local hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

Glover said he didn’t even strike out from his home to go hunting

In this July 13, 2007, photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
EPA proposes restrictions to block Pebble Mine

Mine developer Pebble Limited Partnershi called the EPA’s decision a preemptive veto

Architect Nancy Casey speaks in front of a small gathering at this year’s final Fireside Chat presented by the Kenai Watershed Forum on Nov. 30, 2022, at Kenai River Brewing in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Building with the environment in mind

Kenai Watershed Forum’s Fireside Chats conclude

Johni Blankenship signs her name after being sworn in as Soldotna City Clerk at a city council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Blankenship sworn in as Soldotna city clerk

Blankenship comes to the City of Soldotna from the Kenai Peninsula Borough

Demonstrators hold signs supporting Justin Ruffridge and Jesse Bjorkman for state office on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Nov. 8 election results certified

The outcomes of local races for state office remain unchanged

The Kenai Peninsula Borough administration building is photographed on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
4 candidates vie for borough mayoral seat

The special election is slated for Feb. 14

Spruce trees are dusted with snow on Dec. 22, 2020, in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Soldotna, Alaska. Some areas of the refuge are open to harvest of holiday trees for non-commercial uses beginning Thanksgiving. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Snowmachine use permitted in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge beginning Dec. 1

Areas now available include those “traditionally open to snowmachine use”

Most Read