Ninilchik Fire Chief David Bear moves the fire truck out of the new Ninilchik Emergency Services building on Aug. 9, 2014, to make room for visitors to the open house of the new NES building. (Homer News file photo)

Ninilchik Fire Chief David Bear moves the fire truck out of the new Ninilchik Emergency Services building on Aug. 9, 2014, to make room for visitors to the open house of the new NES building. (Homer News file photo)

Public hearing on emergency services area for Ninilchik on deck

Residents of Ninilchik and Anchor Point have a chance to weigh in on the possibility of an official emergency response services area being formed in Ninilchik at a Kenai Peninsula Borough meeting Monday.

The borough is hosting the public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday at the Kenai Peninsula Fair Grounds in Ninilchik. The purpose is to gather input on whether the community would like to have an official services area for fire and medical emergency response formed under the wing of the borough. The Ninilchik area is currently the only one on the Kenai Peninsula without an official borough services area and is currently served by a volunteer fire department run by a nonprofit board of directors.

The idea of a service area was raised after a recent restructuring of the volunteer fire department, Ninilchik Emergency Services. Members of the Ninilchik community were outraged when members of the former board of directors fired the department’s chief (the only paid staff member) and the volunteer assistant chief.

Following a heated public meeting, the members of the board of directors all stepped down and have been replaced. Chief Dave Bear and Assistant Chief Grace Huhndorf were reinstated.

At a town hall meeting held in Ninilchik on Feb. 6, several attendees brought up the idea of voting to form an official borough service area. The last time this came up was a few decades ago, and it was voted down at the ballot box.

One of the suggestions made at the Feb. 6 community meeting was that the Anchor Point Fire & Emergency Services area could expand south to include Ninilchik, forming one large service area with a larger tax base to draw funds from. Borough service areas operate on funding taken from taxes on property within a given area through a mill rate that people in that area vote on. This includes residential properties and industrial and business properties, such as land owned by oil and gas companies. Voters also elect members of a service area board to represent their interests.

The meeting this Monday will be live streamed on the Anchor Point Fire & Emergency Services Facebook Page, according to the meeting description posted on Facebook by the borough.

Those who plan to attend can send questions they would like to have addressed at the meeting ahead of time to Brenda Ahlberg, Community and Fiscal Projects manager for the borough. Questions must be submitted by no later than noon on Thursday and can be sent to bahlberg@kpb.us. Questions will also be addressed in person at the meeting.

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