Kodiak voters may face a ballot measure related to bonds this fall. An ordinance that would approve the issuance of bonds for school improvement projects passed the first reading of the Borough Assembly during its regular meeting last night.
The ordinance now moves on to a second reading and public hearing, and if approved will appear on the October 7 borough ballot.
Then, if passed by voters, the borough would issue general obligation bonds in the amount of $10,230,000 for about 28 school improvement projects ranging from Peterson Elementary School flooring replacement to Karluk School playground equipment replacement. Other projects on the list include Main Elementary School gym floor replacement, Kodiak Middle School Underground Storage Tank replacement and bus ramp roof replacement, among many others.
Assemblywoman Chris Lynch said she was in favor of the ordinance because the borough owns a lot of buildings that require regular maintenance.
“And once you’re a building owner you need to repair and maintain your buildings. This is the most cost effective way to the tax payers for us to keep our buildings in shape so that we’re not replacing and building new buildings every 15 years.”
Lynch said the bonds also qualify for cost reimbursement from the state, meaning if approved by voters 70 percent of the $10 million cost will be reimbursed by the state. That means the borough could potentially only pay about $3 million of the cost for those improvements.
“That opportunity is not always going to be there.”
Assemblyman Frank Peterson said he would also vote in favor of the ordinance because it will save the borough money in the long run.
“Another thing you have to keep in mind is if you’ve ever owned anything – a vehicle or a house or anything like that – if you don’t maintain it, it’s going to cost you even more money later on down the road. Not only having to replace the item but the material costs are always increasing.”
Assemblyman Mel Stephens said he would vote against the ordinance because he felt it was brought forward at the last minute and the back up material provided to the assembly was inadequate.
“A $10 million bond issue is a very large bond issue. It’s not simply a minor thing and it’s not something I will vote for simply because of the observation that oh, the state will reimburse us for part of this. Maybe it will. It depends on how long the bond goes and whether the state funds that reimbursement each of those particular years. But my big problem here is that this has been brought forward without giving us a reasoned and comprehensive view of where the borough’s overall bonded indebtedness has been going – and it seems to me that it has been going pretty much through the roof.”
The ordinance was approved in a 4-1 vote with Stephens as the only dissenting vote. Assemblywoman Carol Austerman and Assemblyman Aaron Griffin were absent during last night’s meeting.
If the ordinance does make it on to the October ballot and is approved by the voters it will revisit the assembly as a resolution that will set the terms and conditions of those bonds.
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