The City of Soldotna continues to consider the expansion of our municipal boundaries very carefully. Over the years, our Comprehensive Plans have consistently reflected the need for an annexation analysis. The question of whether to move forward has never been resolved. The reasons that caused the City to first consider annexation back in the late 1970’s still exist today — rapid growth outside the City boundaries which causes added pressure on City resources, and limited available, developable properties within the city for those desiring to be within our boundaries.
Earlier this year, the City Council authorized a contract with Northern Economics to assist the City in analyzing areas which meet certain annexation criteria, and then evaluate the costs and benefits associated with providing city services to those areas.
In analyzing these areas, great care was taken to exclude specific neighborhoods, agricultural lands, and other areas due to prior public comment and the area demographics. The focus of the study was limited to areas that are potentially critical to the City’s goals of continuing to provide high-quality services for the community in a cost-efficient and sustainable way.
To that end, the areas referenced on the attached map were selected for the study because they have one or more of the following characteristics:
— Areas where residents and businesses are already receiving city services, such as water and/or sewer utilities, or where extension of utilities can be reasonably achieved or anticipated;
— Existing or potential commercial highway corridors or nodes near the City, whose development has the potential to erode the city’s sales tax base;
— Undeveloped or under-developed areas which may benefit from city services and standards prior to residential, commercial, or other development; and
— Areas where health and safety issues may exist or where a request has been received by the city to offer services not available in the Borough.
Simply being in an area evaluated in the economic study does not mean the property will be annexed into the city. The study is intended to provide additional details and information to the City Council to further define the economic cost/benefit impact and analysis.
The results of the economic analysis are expected to be complete by April 2016, and will be shared with the City Council and the public. At that point, the city plans to engage the community in a dialogue about the results, and determine whether Council has any interest in further pursuing annexation.
Anyone interested in further information about the study is encouraged to contact John Czarnezki, City Planner, at 714-1246 or visit the City’s website at www.Soldotna.org/annexation for current information and updates.
Mark Dixson is Soldotna’s city manager.