Update Monday in REVIEW

Tonight June 5, 2017,  between 5 pm and 7 pm we were updated about the  tax increases by the KPB that will be discussed and voted upon tomorrow evening.  The tax increases, without reducing the costs of operation for the borough, are expected to be implemented in the upcoming budget.    We talked about the increase in property tax,  as well the increase in months of sales tax collection.  We also discussed the status of the service area along the Sterling Highway.  Also discussed was the candidates we will see on the ballot in October for Assembly seats.

As a group the conscientious is these is no basis for tax increases.  The .5 mill rate increase on property tax and the increase of months sales are collected are just an effort to maintain the current level of expenses without any effort to reduce those expenses.  The group of us that met tonight are generally opposed to tax increases without serious consideration of reduction in expenses.  Although we understand that much of the operating expenses are driven by long term public employee union contracts both KPB employees and KPBSD employers, without considerable research there is no clarity as to what can actually be reduced. The three main budget drivers are the KPBSD and KPB employee contracts as well as the increase in cost of doing business generally.

It was mentioned tonight that the general public will have opportunity to question the borough administration about these increases tomorrow night at the KPB Assembly meeting as well as, June 14 at the Kenai/Soldotna Chamber of Commerce at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center there on the Spur Highway.  An RSVP would be good as there is limited space, so get on board early to ask the questions you have.

Considerable thought was put into discussion about candidates for KPB assembly seats we will see on the October ballot.  There is need to find a candidate to run from the Sterling area.  There are candidates or incumbents for most of the other seats but not for the Sterling seat. If you think of anyone, please encourage them to become involved

 

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Welcome to 2015

I am back!!   Cannot believe my errant ways!  In any case I am back, with a renewed commitment to make this a regular meeting with you.

To get things kicked off, January has had a wonderful start.   Just a couple of highlights and then to dive into the meat of the issues;

On January 5, the Monday Update met at Paradisos in Kenai, AK, and had a great meeting discussing issues coming up during 2015, to name a few:

  • marijuana, soon to have government regulations for citizen to obey;
  • Alaska state budget and the new Governor Walker’s campaign promise to cut the budget by 16%;
  • property rights, possible partial repeal of government control of lake and streamside property;
  • sales tax, government tactics to continue to charge sales tax on food year around;
  • re – election of speaker John Bohner, Tuesday vote by US House of Representative to re-election RINO Boehner;
  • KPB assembly people terming out of office, the ongoing effort to have input into the temperament of the KPB assembly.

Many very good topics and many inspired and involved people took part in the discussion.

Joining us was Alaska State House of Representative Speaker Mike Chennault, who was able to give a little insight into some of the above listed topic.  It appears a considerable amount of time may be spent by the State Legislature on sifting out the regulations that will government to newly sprouted marijuana industry.  We discussed recent legislative efforts in other states around this subject and how that experience will factor into decisions to be made the Alaska State legislature.  Perhaps by the middle of February, Alaskans will see results of marijuana legislation, as well as a projected budget by the new governor.

There is expectation that a cut of the budget by 16% will be difficult to accomplish, but Governor Walker is fresh to us from the private sector and undoubtedly has numerous ideas and idea people on how that will get done.  This will be interesting to watch, considering the wonderful “at the pump” price of gas we have all enjoyed, actually accomplishing his campaign promise may be more difficult than he imagined.

The group discussion moved on to property rights and the continuing interest in scaling back government’s grab of streamside property. When streamside property right were last considered and enacted into law many different considerations were part of it.  Now following the KPB Assembly election in October, 2014, there is likely renewed in the protection of property rights along the streams.  This will undoubtedly be an interesting discussion that will evolve over the upcoming month.  How that express go: “developing”,  perhaps not trending, but at least developing.

The discussion then took up the issue of sales tax on food and the government entitled that can charge sales tax and whether it is done on a season basis.  The difference between a General Law city (currently Soldotna) and a Home Rule city (Kenai, Homer and Seward) is a very interesting discussion for those interested local government and who gets to created the law that rule YOU and how that authority is allocated to those governing bodies.   This is sort of “into the weeds”, so we can come back to that before the Soldotna special election on February 3, 2014.

Depending on how much awareness is out there on the issue of the US House of Representative, Tuesday, January 6, Speaker John Boehner, thought by many to be of RINO (Republican in Name Only), was up for re-election to the position of Speaker of the House.  Well, with the push of many of the country’s conservative voters and interested conservative activists, there were 25 Republican votes again John Boehner and in favor or other career politicians considered to be more conservative and in tune with the will of “we the people”.   For those interested the sole representative of the State of Alaska, was in California on a family emergency mission stemming from the death of his 84-year-old brother.   So, it follows he was not present to vote for or again John Boehner; however, not sure it matter as our sole representation no longer has much influence or sway in political consideration since ethics issues have relieved him of most of his committee responsibilities.

 Moving out some into 2015, now is the time to consider who the people might be to run for KPB assembly in October 2015.  There are three geographical areas of the peninsula that will be on the ballot and those are:

  • Anchor Point area on the road right before Homer, currently represented by Make Haggerty;
  • Kalifornsky Beach area, currently represented by Kelly Wolf;
  • Seward area, currently represented by Sue McClure.

I believe that two of these are actually terming out, that would be Anchor Point and Seward; the last, Kalifornsky Beach is standing for re-election.  Looking at the past objective of changing the temperament of the KPB assembly to a more conservative thinking group, the next step is to find people of a conservative, (less government, less taxes, less intrusion into private lives) mind-set who are willing to run for election to the KPB Assembly and vote for those principles.  It is important to remember that all politics are local; and there have already been votes taken since a push was started to bring more conservative thinking back to the Kenai Peninsula Assembly hat have considerable impact on the lives of each individual.  So please talk with friends and acquaintances from the South Peninsula and Seward to find those people to run.

“Republicans Eat Their Young”

There is a challenge in understanding this statement.  Just a hint – it has nothing to do with age.  It starts with defining the word “young” in the political sense of the word.  What this means, is rather than encouraging and nurturing those “young in experience” people interested in serving in elected government, Republicans chew them up and spit them out, essentially eating them.

Those folks “young in experience” are those people who have been willing to learn and study the issues and the procedures at more grass root levels before they jump into the deep end of the pool.  Several of our local politicians have been touted as serving on this local committee and that city commission.  These politicians are also touted as having served on city councils and as city mayors before they ventured out into races covering larger geographical areas and serving greater responsibilities.

Well, as these politicians learned and practiced at the city and borough levels; and networks and word of mouth a valuable commodities, one might expect with all this local experience and “on the job” training, they could count on a “leg up” from those politicians who have previously traveled this route of education and experience.

However, with the Republican Party this is not the case.  It is the practice of Republicans to discount and negate the efforts of those people coming up behind them; essentially destroying the possibilities and potential of those “young in experience” following along behind.   I have been told, the Democratic party does not do this to their up and comers. But might actually support and encourage them.  Could this true??

It could be imagined that at a minium the more experienced politican would vote for  the “young, new in experience” community servant.  But to openly profess to others an unwillingness to support another person working on  behalf of the same political platform.  Well, folks, that is in a nutshell the Republican Party Eating Their Young.

Then comes the Spin!!   The excuse – well those grass-roots contests are non-partisan so whoever is supported is of no consequence.  Having a designation of non-partisan for local Borough elections is definitely true at this point in time.  I, for one, would like to know the why and wherefore of that practice.  Keeping the local contests as non-partisan, without being able to identify the motives and values of these public servants, does not serve the local voter.

Therefore, the local voter  is left to past history (years in the legislature) and voting record (supporting $2.4M in bed tax) and open assembly statements (increasing tax on seniors) to recognize the blue color of the ethics of the local politican.  So when one partisan politican openly expresses an intention to vote in a non-partisan race for someone of the other party, the ethics of that partisan politican are severely called into questions and that partisan politican can be considered as having “eaten his young.”

 

 

CURRENT KPB ADMINISTRATION AND VOTER CONCERNS

 

I learned today at the Industry Day event talking to liberal democrat voters that in spite of the exemplary and fantastic resume of Mike Navarre, they were unaware the current administration activities with regard:

  • to the transfer agreement between the Kenai Surgical Center and the Central Peninsula Hospital; and
  • to the attempt to raise taxes in the amount of $2.4M without a definite plan for the use of this money.

The several people that I talked to that are/were committed liberal voters did not understand that part of the current mayor’s resume is his association with the local hospital and how influence can currently be exerted.  One of these persons ask explicitly how this can be done if the hospital is owned by the community.  It took a few minutes to explain what a small amount of research can turn up.  Several times I had discussions with interested voters on how the failure of the hospital to work with the community in this transfer agreement did not serve the members of the community, but served the profit-driven bottom line of the hospital. It was also necessary to explain that this position of (1)  the bottom line over the medical care needs of the peninsula was the position of the current administration.

It needs to be understood with regard to this transfer agreement that without this agreement the Kenai Surgical Center cannot provide services to Tricare, Medicaid or Medicare patients.  Now the availability of services and the cost of those services may not be of critical interest to everyone, but these issues are of critical interest to the people who need the service (with and without insurance), and are interested in getting the best service for the amount of money spent.  To these people it would of critical interest that the Central Peninsula Hospital (2) charges almost exactly twice the amount of the surgical center and this excessive charge is not necessary, not necessary at all.

The purpose of this reluctance to work with the community is unclear because as soon as more people realize how this hospital is operating, there will be less and less requirement for their services as more and more people will (3) go to Anchorage for the service they need, at a cost they can afford.  How exactly does that support our community, as more and more medical care funds and associated lodging costs are transferred to Anchorage? This was another conversation that came up with cost conscious voters.

It should be stated as well, that along with the failure to work with the community on a transfer agreement with the Kenai Surgical Center, the Hospital is busy buying up various competing services here on the Peninsula; a continuing effort to (4) expand on the current monopoly we call a hospital.

The second issue found interesting to numerous voters was the effort to request voters to approve a bed tax that would generate $2.4M and not having a specific plan for the use of that much money.  The voters quickly appreciated the fact that the bed tax went no where, but the mere fact that this came very close to a public vote and the plan for use of this amount of collected tax dollars was unclear right up to the end of the bed tax discussion concerned many of those voters.

 

UPDATE MONDAY – meeting notes JULY 21

MONDAY  July 21

Meeting last night about 12 people contributed to discussion of four issues that will be presented on the KPB Assembly Agenda TONIGHT,  Tuesday,  July 22.  It was a lively discussion well supported by documented facts.

The FIRST ISSUE Ordinance 2014 – 25 – discussed was the Bed Tax (to go on ballot)  subject to voter approval for final decision.  The issue is charging a 4% tax for transient room and other tourism rentals here on the peninsula.   Seward already has a 4%  bed tax and it appears that percentage seemed acceptable to the KPB assemblyman Mr. Bill Smith (Homer) when he brought the ordinance up to the group.

However, there are details contrary to supporting this ordinance:

  • This is funding for KPTMC for which no accountability has been made available;
  • This tax will likely be paid by Alaska residents, perhaps other than Peninsula residents, but Alaska tax payers all the same;
  • As with all taxes this one will likely only increase and never go away;
  • This tax is basically an effort to push the fear of scarcity button, without full knowledge of whether there will budget shortfalls in the future. or opportunities to reduce spending;
  • While an opportunity to create progressive legacy for Mr. Smith (Homer); there are other options for covering the $300K already provided to KPTMC;
  • This increase to the sales tax limit needs to be taken into consideration

The SECOND ISSUE (Ordinance 2014 – 20, AMENDING code; Resolution 2014-44) for ADVISORY from VOTERS)  discussed was the Vote by Mail.  The idea here is this will bring an increase in voter turn out.

However, there are details contrary to supporting this ordinance

  • This will create an increase in the cost generally of voting in the borough;
  • This change in voter procedures creates the opportunity for voter fraud that has not been an issue here on the Peninsula, why create that opportunity now;
  • Going to the polls for voting is the very least we “uninformed couch potatoes” can do in return for this privilege that has been purchased at the cost of life itself;

The THIRD ISSUE (Ordinance 2014 – 24  AMENDING to eliminate)  involves  the idea that it is exceedingly difficult to find someone to write the opposition statement on initiative or referendums on the ballot.

However there are details contrary to supporting this ordinance:

  • This section of the voter pamphlet could be the extent of the research that is done by some voters;
  • These statements provide an opportunity for well thought out information that had not been considered by voters;
  • In my humble opinion, and a position heard in the community, is it is not so difficult to get a statement in support of pro or con as has been offered by the sponsor of this legislation.

The FOURTH ISSUED (Resolution 2014 – 48 modifying mill rate of 2014-45) discussion briefly dealt with the creation/funding of an animal rescue outside certain incorporated cities;

However there are details contrary to supporting this ordinance:

  • This is a tax to be added to the property tax on the first $150,000.00 of property value in the areas outside certain incorporated cities, and will not affect those cities already providing animal services;
  • In my humble opinion, people should not have animals if they are not knowledgeable about how to care for them, either animals small or large;
  • There has been insufficient research done on the subject to determine whether this is  a good fit for the Kenai Peninsula; and without that research this tax collection is an exercise in legislative malpractice;
  • If there is interest among animal owners to have such a service, this should come from those property owners who will be paying, not from a member of the Assembly initiating anther tax on the community.

 

All of above is simply an indication that everyone needs to be involved in the operation of good government.   If each of you has not noticed, there has been a considerable change in the core values of our culture and that includes the Kenai Peninsula.  If you are interested in helping out with something so simple as:

  •  making input to the KPB Assembly use this information and come to the Borough meeting TONIGHT Tuesday, July 22;
  • writing a letter to one of the Assembly Members, or
  • running yourself as a candidate or appointment to any part of the local government, please come to the  UPDATE MONDAY meeting the night before the assembly meetings and LEARN MORE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culvert costs/overruns

Currently, as you may or may not be aware Beaver Loop is closed due to a culvert replacement being done by the Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF). This is a fairly large project, not unlike replacement of the culvert under Kenai Spur Highway (KSH). I recall that work being done and the extent of the construction efforts. I do not recall however, how long that project took. I also do not know whether the contractor doing Beaver Loop is the same as the earlier project on KSH.

I did not realized until I read it online the Beaver Loop project is a KWF project. I inaccurately assumed since the State of Alaska is making plans to upgrade Beaver Loop, the state was doing this work; actually I thought this project had to do with water main piping, not just a culvert.

All that being said I read yesterday in a couple of places online that this Beaver Loop project would be done “soon” (Robert Ruffner); or “a few weeks” (Rick Cook); or as learned today, they are not sure when!! The foreman did tell me they have removed the expected completion dates from the reader signs.

The original time frame was 5/21 – 6/11. Now there is no completion date. Now the first thing that comes to my mind is not fishing traffic (Rick Cook), but the cost overruns for all the additional time, particularly the labor. So I ask the foreman about this!

He explained there would be no cost over runs; he would have to eat it himself. I replied, “What you have no contract with the government?” He said his contract for a set amount with KWF.

Now the structural and logistical explanations given in the online interviews for the delay did not reassure me regarding an expected completion date; the expected completion date only concerns because there will be the expectation to recoup those overrun costs.

From where will KWF expect to recoup those funds? The city – because the city water main is included in the project and Cook has oversight, “addressing pubic concerns” input. The state- because the road is currently the responsibility of the state, and they have limited funds for the upcoming upgrade. The borough or federal government – because most of KFW funds are grants from government agencies; or because KWF and KPB are funding buddies?

I think this is a legitimate question!

Combined Election Districts 29/30 meeting

Friday evening, June 13, Election Districts 29 and 30 met to discuss the status of campaigns here on the Peninsula and what is happening in the two Election District.   It was a well attended meeting, many issues were discussed and much was resolved particularly around some housekeeping matters like paying some obligation from past meetings, firming up booth appearances in the coming weeks.  We also discussed certain events and activities that will need some volunteer help.  We discussed events currently on the calendar coming up over the next week.

Toward the end of the time together we schedule a time to meet again as the combined districts and we scheduled time to meet to discuss strategy efforts before the Primary. It is evident we will need volunteers to help with many different project.

Would you, or someone you know, that is interested in seeing things change, be interested in helping out with various projects. We will planning to meet again for discussion along these lines on June 22. Please join us or pass on the information to people you think might be interested.

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