Kachemak City water tapping voted down
March 16th | Carey Restino
Mayor says plan would be a disadvantage to city residents and businesses
An effort to allow Kachemak City residents to tap into a city of Homer water line running right by their houses was reconsidered and voted down Monday night after city council members and members of the public expressed concern that providing city water to non-city residents raised numerous questions.
In addition, several people testified, Kachemak City had not yet weighed in on the matter, nor had the city been asked for its opinion of the plan, which would have allowed Kachemak City residents along the water line to tap into the line after paying a cost of $16,738.43.
At the beginning of the meeting, past city of Homer Mayor Jack Cushing testified that the issue of providing city utilities to noncity residents was debated at length in the past, and the decision was made not to do so for a number of reasons, including the fact that it could put city residents and businesses at a disadvantage over those outside the city.
"This will open the door for the city in the future to consider annexation again," Cushing said, referring to the highly contentious 2002 attempt by the city to annex 26 square miles of land surrounding the current city. "From my experience, your last meeting will seem like a cake walk (if annexation came up again) only you would be at it for two to three years."
Others testified that Kachemak City had not been asked for its opinion on the council's plan, either, and should be asked prior to any vote.
Councilmember Tom Stroozas advocated for the passage of the resolution allowing the residents to tap into the line, saying the water line already existed and this would simply allow the city to make some money on what he called "stranded infrastructure."
"This does not advocate any type of annexation to folks in Kachemak City," he said.
Councilmember Donna Aderhold, however, said she would vote against it in large part because Kachemak City itself was not on board with it.
The council then considered a postponement of the ordinance, which was voted down with a tie vote — council members David Lewis, Aderhold and Catriona Reynolds voted against it and Shelly Erickson, Stroozas and Heath Smith voted in favor. Mayor Bryan Zak broke the tie voting no.
The main motion for reconsideration was voted down with only Stroozas voting in favor.
In other news:
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Kelly Cooper reported to the council that the borough is working on a plan to create a highway corridor emergency services area to better meet the emergency response needs along the Sterling and Seward highways in remote areas where local emergency services are stretched thin responding to accidents far outside their regions.
Cooper said some regions of those highways see an average of 3,000-4,000 vehicles per day and in the summer, those numbers more than triple. She said the service area would use federal funds rather than a tax increase. Prior to any changes taking place, public feedback will be sought through community meetings as well as consideration and a vote by the assembly.
The council heard testimony from residents of Soundview Avenue, who expressed the need for speed bumps and stop signs to slow down traffic on the busy street connecting the west side of the Sterling Highway near West Homer Elementary with Bartlett Street. Residents testified that upcoming work on the street to improve pedestrian access should also include traffic abatement measures.
The council considered an ordinance submitting a ballot question to the voters next fall regarding the authorization of use of revenues from a portion of the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails program for use on trails maintenance. Currently the funds, which are acquired through a sales tax, can only be used for road and trail construction. City Manager Katie Koester testified that in her opinion, trails would benefit from this revision of the allowable uses for the funds because city budgets do not include much for trails maintenance currently. The ordinance was approved unanimously.
The council heard a report from the Koester regarding damage to the new public restrooms in town, which public works employees and police report have been used by homeless individuals who lock themselves in and sleep at night in the heated facilities. Unfortunately, the restrooms have also been vandalized with spray paint and feces, causing the city to move to lock them at night and on weekends when no city employees are on duty to open them in the morning.