For many years now, the city of Soldotna has bludgeoned its way toward annexing areas of the borough whose residents and property owners don’t want to be annexed. Their choice of method for accomplishing this has been the Legislative Review Process. To annex an area by the Legislative Review Process is to take it over without a vote of those who are affected. It is the least democratic of the five avenues a city can use to expand its borders.
The first go-round saw petitions with hundreds of signatures and public testimony in meeting after meeting against annexation. The entire Soldotna City council turned a deaf ear toward the outpouring of public sentiment and voted to annex anyway. One man, then city mayor Dave Carey, vetoed their decision and we escaped becoming an unwilling part of the city of Soldotna.
In 2015-16, the issue raised its ugly head once again. In spite of more petitions with over 1,000 signatures and more public outcry, the city council voted to have the matter studied. The Athena group assessed the need for annexation and their findings did not support the city’s desire to extend the current boundaries. The city of Soldotna has the largest tax-based income of any city in the borough.
Fast forward to 2018 and the city of Soldotna, in spite of reams of negative comment from those who would be impacted, decided to go ahead, using the Legislative Review Process, to annex those areas that would provide the city with the most lucrative tax revenue. This coming Saturday, Sept. 7 at SoHi Auditorium, the city will offer its final token meeting for public comment before petitioning the Local Boundary Commission in Juneau for permission to annex several areas adjacent to its present boundaries — areas whose residents and property owners will have no vote.
What can you do? Please, come to the meeting on Sept. 7. Make your voice heard. Support those who are being denied the right to vote on their future. Who knows where the city will go next?
— Sally Oelrich, Soldotna