The City of Soldotna is drafting plans for its 2016 fiscal year legislative priorities, which will be finalized early this fall.
If the city council passes the priorities resolution at its next regular meeting, Oct. 15, the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex Expansion will be the city’s top priority. The project would include a renovation of the existing facility and the total cost, originally estimated at $17 million, is now closer to $10.4 million, City Manager Mark Dixson said.
Soldotna will only be requesting funding for $5.9 million of the project cost from the state, according to the priorities draft City Engineer Kyle Kornelis presented at a public work session Wednesday.
“We’re ahead of the game, and trying to be proactive,” said Kornelis. “The city is eagerly seeking state funding to make it a reality.”
Council member Linda Murphy said the governor doesn’t normally put money in for municipalities’ capital projects, but if there is a resolution that includes “big ticket” items, such as the sports complex overhaul, then he may designate funds specifically for the proposal.
Usually the legislative priorities are approved in late October or the beginning of November, Dixson said. Prioritizing early may give the projects a better chance at receiving funding on the state level.
Dixson said with the plan to use the complex as a shelter or center of command for natural disasters such as the Funny River Horse Trail wildfire, the governor may consider allocating funding for the project.
Murphy said she had concerns on whether or not the expanded facility would be able to make enough additional revenue to make up for increased maintenance, staffing and utility costs.
Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael said it is unlikely the investment would be directly returned.
“The only thing worse than a rink is a pool,” Carmichael said.
Dixson said he views the complex as a public service, much like the Joyce K. Carver Soldotna Public Library. The city makes virtually no money off of the service, but its function is invaluable in the community, he said.
The ten projects that made it onto the priorities draft Kornelis presented at a public work session Wednesday were taken directly from Soldotna’s Five Year Capital Plan FY2015-2019, he said.
The council will review the plan and vote on the resolution at its Oct. 15 meeting.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com.