Assembly District 5: Morton: Budget reflects community’s values

  • By Leslie Morton
  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 9:45am
  • Opinion

I’m running for a seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to help maintain our community and quality of life. My husband and I chose to raise our two daughters here on the Kenai Peninsula. With good schools, quality health care, engaged businesses, a growing agricultural sector, amazing arts, and access to world-class outdoor activities, it was an easy decision. I want the Kenai to continue to be a place where our kids and friends will choose to live. We need a reasonable balance in how the Assembly considers new ordinances, budget allocations, and comprehensive land planning.

Easier said than done, however. None of us wants to pay more taxes but few are willing to experience diminished services. We live in a time of declining state and local revenues with a $4 million deficit in the FY18 budget. Where to trim the budget? Consider that 75% of our budget funds schools, the hospital, emergency services, road maintenance and solid waste management. Borough government represents another 15% of the budget, but borough staffing hasn’t increased in 20 years. Even small cost-saving cuts such as closing the Soldotna landfill another day or further reducing custodial services in schools are not simply inconvenient but unhealthy. My point is that keeping our budget lean is a smart goal, but we need to think deeply about what we’re willing to live without.

I believe our budget and what we choose to fund is a reflection of our values as a community. Within the larger borough, I will work to sustain public education including post-secondary and vocational training, and to promote diversification of small business and agriculture. In District 5, which I hope to serve, I will oppose the proposed annexation by the City of Soldotna, support development but regulation of the marijuana industry, and work towards improved emergency services.

I believe I can help bring balance to the Assembly. Although I grew up in a small business family, I’ve been a civil servant for decades. I listen and have a reputation for finding reasonable compromises. In my position with the Department of Defense, I earned the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award as a Natural Resource Manager for having “consistently found ways to satisfy the Navy’s needs while concurrently protecting the environment.” Locally, I’ve worked for our School District as an English Language Learners Tutor, as Board President of the Kenai Watershed Forum, with the City of Soldotna Parks & Recreation, as the Kenai Peninsula Resource Conservation & Development District Coordinator, and on the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen Advisory Committee. I look forward to using my experience to serve District 5 and other borough residents on the Assembly.

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