Two propositions on the Oct. 2 Kenai Peninsula Borough ballot will be considered separately by voters in the Central Peninsula Hospital Service Area and the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area. Though distinct propositions, the questions literally meet in the middle, and depending on the results, can affect residents in both areas.
Proposition 2 asks voters in the central peninsula and those in a proposed expanded area if they want to extend the CPH Service Area boundary moved about 15 miles south to Barbara Drive in Ninilchik. A “yes” vote accepts the change and a “no” vote keeps the service areas as they are.
Proposition 3 asks voters in the south peninsula and those in a proposed expanded area across Kachemak Bay if they want to extend the SPH Service Area boundary to include the land south of Kachemak Bay, but excluding the city of Seldovia. A “yes” vote accepts the change and a “no” vote keeps the service areas as they are.
Four results could happen: both propositions pass, both fail, Prop 2 only passes or Prop 3 only passes. If both propositions pass, most residents will see a drop in property taxes. The central peninsula service area would become larger by moving south, and so would the service area for South Peninsula Hospital.
Only certain taxpayers in the expanded area of the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area would see a tax increase to pay for South Peninsula Hospital service they already receive. Residents on the south side of Kachemak Bay and east of Neptune Bay already are in the south peninsula service area.
Like a Venn diagram — those intersecting circles that show how some sets of properties can be common — one group of residents will vote on both propositions. Residents who are between Barbara Drive and the current northern boundary of the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area at the Clam Gulch Tower will vote on the question of if they want to join the central peninsula service area. But because they are currently the south peninsula service area, they will also vote on if they want to expand the southern service area across Kachemak Bay.
If Proposition 2 passes, the taxpayers in the expanded area of the central peninsula will see the mill rate drop from 2.3 milles to 1.18 mills, or from $230 per $100,000 to $118 per $100,000. Other residents in the central peninsula service area pay a mill rate of 0.01 mills or $1 per $100,000 — essentially an administrative fee.
If Proposition 3 passes, taxpayers in the expanded area — that is, residents of Port Graham, Nanwalek, outside of Seldovia and other areas — would pay another 1.13 mills or $113 per $100,000 of property assessment. According to hospital records, Residents of Seldovia, Nanwalek and Port Graham made about 2,800 visits to South Peninsula Hospital from 2015-17. Because Seldovia City residents use the same zip code as outside the city, the statistics can’t make the distinction between city and non-city residents.
If Propositions 2 and 3 pass, the net effect for current south peninsula service area taxpayers would drop slightly from 2.364 mills, or $236 per $100,000, to 2.299 mills, or $229 per $100,000, or a $7 savings.
The boundary change question came about after persistent attempts by central peninsula assembly members to address what they see as an unfairness. Some Ninilchik residents tend to go north to Central Peninsula Hospital though they pay service area taxes in the South Kenai Peninsula Service Area. According to the ballot language, a Homer hospital was built in 1955. The south peninsula hospital service area was created in 1969, with the north boundary put at about Mile 119.25 Sterling Highway. A Soldotna hospital opened in 1971.
According to the Proposition 2 ballot language, from January 2013 to May 2017, about 78 percent of the ambulance runs for Ninilchik Emergency Services were to Central Peninsula Hospital.
Earlier proposals did not include the expansion of the southern hospital service area, and would have decreased property tax revenues to the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area and potentially affected South Peninsula Hospital services provided to a clinic in Ninilchik. Proposition 2 doesn’t include downtown Ninilchik and won’t affect SPH services at the clinic.
A revised ordinance introduced by borough assembly member Dale Bagley crafted the compromise: expand the central peninsula service area to Barbara Drive and also expand the south peninsula service area across Kachemak Bay.
There has been no public opposition to the propositions, with no one writing against it in the official borough election packet or to the Homer News.