The Kenai Peninsula Borough released its state funding priorities Tuesday (1/19) for the current legislative session.
Borough Mayor Mike Navarre isn’t optimistic the legislature will appropriate funds for the borough’s wish list, but he says it’s still important to ask.
“We don’t expect many of these projects to get funded in this year’s capital budget given the state’s fiscal situation but we wanted to identify them anyway so that when and if we come [to] some point in the future where capital funding becomes more available, the projects will have been identified,” said Navarre.
Navarre says the borough chose four capital projects for the legislature to consider. The borough is asking for $350,000 for renovations to the 9-1-1 Dispatch Operations Center in Soldotna and $1 million for flood mitigation efforts in the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area.
There are two lower priority capital projects. The borough wants $1 million for wildfire mitigation and it is asking for more than $6.7 million to replace the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system in the Borough’s administration building. That request is more than a decade old.
“That’s something that’s been on the list for probably 10 – 15 years and its something that is going to have to be done,” said Navarre.
The borough will also lobby for the state to continue helping local peninsula government fund public services. Navarre estimates the borough gets about $2 million a year from the state’s revenue sharing program. The state reduced its contribution to that program last year and Navarre expects a reduction this year, but still hopes to see some level of funding. And he says the borough also needs the state to keep contributing to the Public Employment Retirement and Teacher’s Retirement systems.
“We want them to continue that because otherwise that’s a huge shift on an annual basis, millions of dollars that could be shifted to local governments. [It] would simply remove a state obligation and put it on the backs of local taxpayers,” said Navarre.
Other funding priorities included in the list were legislative priorities for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, peninsula road projects, and funding needs in borough service areas, cities and unincorporated communities.
Navarre says the borough will be watching the legislature’s decisions closely during this session.