Elizabeth Earl

Assembly passes property tax code changes

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has passed an ordinance amending the property tax code and is reviewing another ordinance with changes to the sales tax code.

Borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s administration has been reviewing the sales and property tax codes for about a year. After reviewing the code and pulling out specific changes, the mayor introduced four ordinances addressing tax administration in the borough. Three have been approved and one is awaiting discussion.

Hemp proposed as agricultural crop for Alaska

When an oil spill occurs, one of the first reactions is to use something to mop it up.

Respondents typically will use clay-based absorbents on land-based spills or polymer dispersants on water to help dissipate or collect the oil so it’s easier to remove from the spill site. However, it can be expensive and may take significant volumes before the spill is under control.

Marijuana ban petition won't be on October ballot

A citizen initiative seeking to ask voters whether commercial marijuana is legal in the Kenai Peninsula Borough outside the cities is a no-go.

The borough clerk’s office finished verifying the signatures Friday and found the petition came up short. The petitioners were 62 signatures shy of the 898 they needed to qualify for the Oct. 4 general election ballot, said Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

“They submitted 998 signatures,” Blankenship said. “We were only able to validate 836.”

Voters to have say on senior property tax exemption

Kenai Peninsula voters will decide whether to continue the borough’s optional senior property tax exemption in this fall’s election.

The proposal comes out of a comprehensive review of the borough’s tax code that Borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s office has been engaged in since last year. It joins another proposal on the ballot that would raise the purchasing cap for sales tax from $500 to $1,000 in the borough, also part of the mayor’s rewrite.

No changes in hospital service area boundaries

The boundaries of the Kenai Peninsula’s hospital service areas will stay where they are for now.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly struck down a proposed ordinance at its July 26 meeting that would have moved the common boundary between the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area and the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area about 12 miles to the south. The move would have shifted a number of residents into the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area, which has a significantly lower mill rate.

Senior property tax exemption to go to voters

Kenai Peninsula voters will decide whether to continue the borough’s optional senior property tax exemption in this fall’s election.

The proposal comes out of a comprehensive review of the borough’s tax code that Borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s office has been engaged in since last year. It joins another proposal on the ballot that would raise the purchasing cap for sales tax from $500 to $1,000 in the borough, also part of the mayor’s rewrite.

Lower Cook Inlet oil leases advance

Residents of Anchor Point, Homer and Seldovia could see drilling rigs off their coasts in the future if the federal Department of the Interior gives it the green light.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, has issued a draft environmental impact statement for oil and gas exploratory leases in Lower Cook Inlet. The proposed leasing area stretches from approximately Ninilchik to just north of Augustine Island, not including Kachemak Bay.

App gets people out to catch some monsters

Soldotna Creek Park’s playground looks safe enough in the sunshine with kids clambering over monkey bars, but to the right eyes, it’s full of monsters. These monsters are tamable, though — they’re Pokemon, and there are hundreds of trainers, or players, on the Kenai Peninsula ready to catch them.

Keenan Orth and his sister Ginni Orth maneuvered near to a railing near the edge of the playground known as the Fish Railing, lined with a number of brightly painted wood salmon silhouettes.

Dipnetting spurs entrepreneurs

Rattling along the deep ruts of the sand on the Kenai River’s south beach in a side-by-side, Jason Floyd took orders for mochas.

He wheeled the vehicle expertly among dipnets, dipnetters, coolers and tents on the beach Monday — this crowd, though still thick, was nothing compared to the crowd the weekend before, he said. A cooler full of ice rides in the back of the side-by-side beneath an Alaska flag and the signature yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flag.

Heroin, $23,000 seized in Kenai raid

Alaska State Troopers and the Kenai Police Department seized nearly half a pound of heroin and $23,000 in cash from a Kenai home in a raid Monday.

At approximately 3 p.m., troopers served a warrant on a home in Kenai with the assistance of the Kenai Police Department. Inside, they found Kenai resident Corey Clifton, 42, whom they arrested on outstanding felony warrants for probation and parole violations, according to a trooper dispatch.

In the search, officers discovered drugs, drug paraphernalia and cash in the home, according to the dispatch.

Borough OKs USAD to extend Funny River gas line

More residents of Soldotna’s Funny River area will soon have access to natural gas in their homes.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved a resolution at its June 21 meeting forming the Funny River East Utility Special Assessment District, which will allow for the extension of an existing natural gas pipeline in the area to reach 309 more parcels from Angler’s Roost Street and Treeline Avenue northeast to Moonshine Drive and Zackery Street.

Keep out: Kenai Peninsula land managers work together to curb invasive species

Wearing a pump-powered backpack sprayer, long yellow gloves and protective goggles, Jen Peura looked more like she was out hunting ghosts than killing flowers.

The seasonal biotech for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge pointed to a thin, leafy sprig near the narrow Egumen Lake trail. The innocuous-looking plant blended in with the grasses around it, bearing only a small knot of a bud at the top.

Borough sees increase in oil property values

The values of some oil and gas properties in the Kenai Peninsula Borough jumped in the most recent state assessment, producing about $1.1 million more for the borough in property taxes.

Much of that increase comes from the Nikiski area, where the tax values for the year increased by approximately $559,991, according to the borough’s fiscal year 2017 budget.

The increase allowed for a mill rate decrease for residents of Nikiski from 2.90 to 2.80 for the next year. The borough assembly approved the new mill rate at its June 7 meeting.

Proposal would move hospital service area south

A proposed ordinance before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly would move the hospital service area boundary south.

The move would shift Ninilchik from the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area to the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area, resulting in a drop in the mill rate for Ninilchik property owners. Residents of the southern service area pay a mill rate of approximately 2.3, while central peninsula service area residents pay a rate of .01.

Report examines five-year outlook for peninsula economy

The Kenai Peninsula’s relatively diverse economy has some room to grow in the next few years, accommodating for lower oil prices and production as well as an aging population.

The most recent Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, compiled by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, reviews some demographic and employment statistics while proposing broad goals for the next five years. The plan will be updated every year but provides a broad framework for the future of the economy, said Rick Roeske, the KPEDD’s executive director.

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