Kodiak voters will face a ballot measure related to bond issues during the October election. The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly approved putting it on the ballot during its regular meeting last night. If passed this fall, the borough would be allowed to issue general obligation bonds worth more than $10 million to finance renovations to various school facilities throughout the borough, including the villages.
The bonds could be eligible for a 70 percent reimbursement from the state, which is why Assemblyman Frank Peterson said he would vote in favor of pushing the matter forward.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen from year to year with the legislative appropriations. It’s gone from 90/10 to 70/30, next year it could be 60/40 or nothing. It could be 50/50 or it could be nothing. I think it’s important that we take advantage of this opportunity while we have the chance. To have the state pay for $8 million of a $10 million project seems like a no brainer to me because these are projects that we’re going to have to pay for anyway. So let’s do it.”
Assemblywoman Chris Lynch said she would support the ordinance because the borough has an obligation to maintain its buildings.
“And it’s far more cost effective to do maintenance then to wait and replace entire facilities without doing any maintenance the next ten years.”
She said it makes sense to move it forward to a vote of the people and if it doesn’t go through, the borough will need to come up with different ways to pay for the maintenance projects included in the bond issuance.
Assemblyman Mel Stephens said he would not be voting for the ordinance, even though he recognized that last night’s vote would merely put the matter before the community for a final decision.
“That frankly does not assuage my serious concerns about where we’re going with this. Id o not think we are ready to present this matter to the voters because I do not think it has been properly thought through and I do not trust the financial figures which staff has brought forward in an attempt to justify this ordinance. I understand and I agree with the statement that the borough needs to properly maintain its facilities. The problem with that statement is that it’s a platitude with which no one is going to disagree, but that platitude cannot serve as a justification for spending any particular amount on replacement or renewal projects, in any particular year, or for determining whether or not it makes sense to go into dept to finance a particular project or projects.”
Assemblyman Aaron Griffin said he understood why Stephens wanted to get a “hard lock down” on the financial picture of these bonds.
“That being said, we do have some severe problems in our facilities that need to be addressed. And I would not call having buckets in the hallways, which is what is currently happening at East Elementary School because we have a leaky roof there, where we have kids having to dodge these things in the hallway, elementary school kids, we have a fungal growth in the roof line because there’s water soaking through and that to me is an emergency. You know we held off on it this year. We patched it. But it’s something that needs to be done. All of these projects are important. T Here’s close to 30 of them that are necessary projects among all 13 of our schools. ”
Griffin voted in favor of the second reading of the ordinance, as did five other assembly members. Stephens was the lone dissenter on the matter.
If approved this fall the matter will return to the assembly in a resolution format for final approval.