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.
The assembly was divided on a number of issues, with the vote only failing because the assembly was hung 4-4, with assembly member Stan Welles absent. The ordinance had to be either enacted or failed Tuesday night because the meeting was the cutoff for any propositions to make it onto the October election ballot.
Chief among the issues brought up was the loss of revenue for South Peninsula Hospital. Homer’s hospital, a 22-bed facility about 75 miles south of Soldotna, serves Homer, Seldovia, Anchor Point, Fritz Creek and the other smaller communities on the Lower Kenai Peninsula.
Although the hospital holds less outstanding debt than Central Peninsula Hospital, it also has more limited revenue and resources, and depends more on the revenue from its mill rate. Residents of South Peninsula Hospital’s service area pay a 2.3-mill tax on their property, while residents of Central Peninsula Hospital’s service area pay .01 mills.
Many residents of the area between Ninilchik and Clam Gulch, who would be affected by the change, have said they use Central Peninsula Hospital for their medical emergencies and needs. Moving the line would only be fair, said assembly member Brent Johnson, the ordinance’s sponsor.
The original line followed the precinct line for Ninilchik and was placed there against the will of many of the residents, annexing them into a service area for a hospital they do not use, he said.
If the proposal had gone to ballot, only the members of the current Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area and those who would be taken into it would be allowed to vote.