Assembly nixes changes to service area boundaries

Medical service areas, and the implications of their boundaries, drew the most debate from Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members during their Tuesday night meeting.

The assembly voted down two ordinances addressing medical service area boundaries. The first sought to expand the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area to include the city of Seldovia and outlying communities including Nanwalek and Port Graham. Assembly Member Sue McClure said when the original service area lines were drawn, there was a hospital in Seldovia. With a hospital no longer being there, she said the ordinance would expand the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area to include those residents.

The assembly voted the ordinance down, deciding it needs more information before it can move forward.

The second ordinance, brought forth by assembly member Brent Johnson, sought to move the “common boundary” between the Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area and the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area. The ordinance would have moved the line 14.5 miles south, closer to the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area.

Johnson said the two service areas were not separated at the true, proposed midpoint between them when they were created in 1969, and that it could be safely assumed that people between the actual midpoint and the current midpoint were more likely to use the Central Peninsula Hospital.

“The people should be taxed according to a service area that makes good sense… and also a hospital that they go to,” Johnson said.

With the boundary line moved, residents in that area would no longer pay taxes for the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area, which would lose around $120,000 said hospital CEO Bob Leston.

Assembly members voted this ordinance down, again citing a need for more information from a task force being formed to investigate the matter. Mayor Mike Navarre said the task force has been slow to get up and running.

“History matters in how the service areas are formed, and maybe these lines are somewhat arbitrary,” said Assembly Member Blaine Gilman. “The fact of the matter is that a hospital nonprofit association has relied on this funding source, and to take away $122,000 from this nonprofit right now… I just think that’s too big of a cut in their budget.”

One service area ordinance brought forth by both Navarre and Johnson did pass. The ordinance sought to expand the boundaries of the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area to include a portion of the Cook Inlet stretching along the coast from section 7 to section 34 and west into the water to the Mean High Water of Cook Inlet. 

Johnson said this change would accommodate oil and gas entities offshore not currently included in the service area. Other members agreed that increased activity offshore due to oil and gas interests necessitated enlarging the service area, should injured people come ashore and need assistance.

The matter will be brought before voters in that service area for a vote during the scheduled Oct. 6 election.

Megan Pacer is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

More in News

Teaser
Then Now: Looking back on pandemic response

Comparing messaging from 1918 to 2021

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State Parks to hold meeting on Eastland Cottonwood unit

Meeting will include update on Tutka Bay Hatchery bill

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Company looks to build solar farm on peninsula

It would be roughly 20 times the size of the largest solar farm currently in the state.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna Trooper arrested for multiple charges of child sex abuse

He has been a State Trooper in Soldotna since June 2020.

This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. An Alaska state lawmaker was cited for driving with an open can of beer in his vehicle that another lawmaker said was actually his. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Lawmaker cited for open beer fellow legislator says was his

Republican Sen. Josh Revak plans to challenge the $220 ticket.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
This 2011 photo shows the Taku and Malaspina ferries at the Auke Bay Terminal.
Costs add up as ferry idled nearly 2 years

Associated Press The cost to the state for docking an Alaska ferry… Continue reading

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

AP Photo / Becky Bohrer
The Alaska Capitol is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. There is interest among lawmakers and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in settling a dispute over the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program, but no consensus on what the program should look like going forward.
Alaskans get annual boost of free money from PFD

Checks of $1,114 are expected to be paid to about 643,000 Alaskans, beginning this week.

Most Read