Assembly welcomes Cooper, two others; Smith terms out

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members said goodbye on Tuesday to three outgoing members and welcomed their elected replacements.

Termed-out members Charlie Pierce, Bill Smith and Assembly President Hal Smalley took part in their last assembly meeting. Blaine Gilman, Kelly Cooper and Stan Welles were sworn-into office and will take their place at the Oct. 28 meeting. 

Gilman was elected to Kenai district with nearly 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race with Jake Thompson and Grayling Bassett. Cooper ran unopposed for the Homer district. Welles won the Sterling and Funny River seat with 46.58 percent of the votes over LaDawn Druce and Marty Anderson.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre was re-elected to his second term and sworn-in Tuesday. The assembly certified the results of the borough election and passed the resolution in the consent agenda.

Navarre said it is a big responsibility holding elected office and he would continue to work diligently. He said the new assembly members over time would assimilate to their role as they become more informed on the budget and priorities like healthcare and the gas line project.

“We need to make sure we protect our borough interests and try to put some forward eye toward improving government and service to the public,” Navarre said.

After serving as president for a majority of his time on the assembly, Smalley said it has been a privilege working with a talented borough staff.

“The most accomplished thing we have done as a body is to try and do things right for the borough,” Smalley said. “We may not have all the answers but we can protect habitat. If that’s the only thing we can do let’s do something.”

The assembly passed a resolution about climate change and ocean acidification that requests a state task force reconvene and takes action on recommendations to mitigate the effects. The resolution passed by a 5-3 vote with no votes cast by assembly members Pierce, Kelly Wolf and Dale Bagley.

Assembly member Mako Haggerty introduced the resolution and felt the borough should be proactive and adapt to changes. He said the issue of climate change is as timely as ever and is seen in bluff erosion and fisheries stock assessments.

“It seems to me more than anything we should be looking into the effect of climate change so we can adapt,” Haggerty said. “Any issues coming down the line I would like to know before not after. It may seem vague but it is a small step toward any adverse effects we may have in the future.”

After the vote, Wolf moved for a reconsideration vote and the climate change resolution will be voted on at the next assembly meeting.

From 2007 to 2009, a state Climate Change Sub-Cabinet task force developed mitigation recommendations, but the state has not implemented the recommendations, according to the resolution.

Wolf said he couldn’t find any of the recommendations and asked for the resolution to be postponed. The motion to postpone failed. Smith said four reports from the task force could be found on the state website by searching climate change.

The assembly approved four ordinances.

More than $14,000 was returned to the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area Capital Project Fund after a project to provide Alaska Disabilities Act upgrades and the installation of fire alarms at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center was completed under budget.

Assembly member Brent Johnson said the amount requested was double what was needed and the remainder of the funds was returned to the land trust fund.

The assembly added $5,000 to the equipment replacement fund to cover the cost to purchase four vehicles for the maintenance department. The FY 2015 budget already included $100,000 for the purchase, but based on latest pricing, the estimated cost is $102,838, according to the ordinance.

In response to a review of the Central Peninsula Landfill from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the assembly put $60,000 toward the design and installation of six gas probes at the landfill.

To avoid the potential of a run-off election conflicting with the state general election, the assembly amended an ordinance to establish procedures in the event of a run-off election.

If it was determined a mayoral run-off election was needed, it would be held Oct. 28, but according to code the run-off election would need to be certified no later than the next Tuesday, Nov. 4, the date of the state’s general election. 

The run-off election would present the Clerk’s office with a scheduling conflict in handling both elections. To avoid the conflict, the assembly would meet in public for the report of the canvass board no later than the second Wednesday after the election.

Assembly member Sue McClure said while the chance of a run-off election coinciding with the general election is rare, by amending the code it would address the issue should a run-off election for borough mayor be needed in the future.

The assembly approved two bids submitted to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Road Service area for several road projects that will be included in the fiscal year 2015 capital improvement projects.

A bid was approved from North Star Paving and Construction for $52,040 for gravel improvements to Oil Well Road in Ninilchik. Total costs for the project are $57,467.


Great Northern Construction and Management submitted the lowest bid from five applicants for the contract of gravel improvement to Dunes Road off Cannery Road, Exit Avenue south of Soldotna and Helgeson Avenue off Gas Well Road. The bid of $36,576 was approved. The total costs for this project are $41,388.


More than 250 people participated in the Surplus Property Auction held Sept. 20, which brought in a total of $128,550 according to a memo from Mark Fowler, Purchasing and Contracting Director.


Homer Electric Association received about 45 percent of the sales with $57,930 while the City of Soldotna received $9,465. The amount of registered buyers this year was nearly double of the seven-year average of 177 from past auctions.


After auctioneer fees and advertising costs, the auction made $111,628 to be distributed throughout 11 borough department funds.


Bagley said a lot of experience is leaving the assembly, but at the same time the new people coming in have a lot of energy, fresh ideas and a different perspective.


“It’s sad to see folks you spent time with go, but it’s also great to see new people come in,” he said.


In his closing comments, Pierce said term limits are not all bad.


“We all have philosophical differences and that’s OK,” he said. “I have strong opinions for what I think government’s role is in our lives. I hope the new members be steadfast and look at the issues and the residents you represent.”