Q & A from the Public Engagement Process, 2017

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OPEN HOUSE AND COMMUNITY CONVERSATION Q&A

2017

 QUESTIONS

 

 ANSWERS

Are the 9 study areas set in stone?    The City created the nine study areas to show the areas they are considering for annexation. Shape of the 9 study areas was based on community input (especially around residential). If the Council decides to form a petition to submit to the Local Boundary Commission, it would have to define the areas it is seeking to annex, which would likely be a smaller subset of the nine areas that were studied.
The Local Boundary Commission is the final authority and can modify a community’s petition, based on whether or not it meets the required standards in State law.
 How long before the next round of annexation?    None planned.
 Is the city likely to drop study area 6 from consideration?    Possibly – if residents don’t express need or desire for city services or the City decides it is not in the best interest of the City.
 Why is the city still talking about annexation? Why is it needed?    Because of pressure on city services from area growth, requests for services (police, water and sewer, animal control), desire to preserve character (controlled growth) and efforts to meet goals in Comprehensive Plan, Envision Soldotna 2030.

Notes from city manager’s remarks: Annexation is not about revenue alone; it’s about responsible planning for the future to protect our way of life (preservation & responsible growth); People north of Knight Dr. = if people want the services we want to look at it = “study” areas, not “target” areas.  I think it’s prudent for the City to look at the outlying areas (lots of meetings, I understand), but I think it’s prudent.
 Will we be able to ride ATVs and snow machines if annexed?    Ok on private property in city and elsewhere.  Both the city and the state do not allow use on roads anywhere except to cross from private property to private property.
 Would businesses need to upgrade to city’s “business look”?    In most cases businesses would be grandfathered.  Changes would only be required if there was new construction, expansion or a change of use.
 Will I lose my senior property tax exemption?    City exemption of $150,000 applied to city’s 0.5 mill rate only. $300,000 exemption still applies to all other mill rates City residents pay to the Borough (currently 7.11 mills) that make up total property tax.
 Will I need to abandon my well and septic if city water and sewer comes nearby?    Not until personal well or septic system fails, and then only if the property is within 300 feet of an established sewer/water line and connection to the line is feasible.
 How are utilities paid for?    Utility expansion is typically paid for by the utility fund, which consists of revenue from user fees. If a majority of a neighborhood requests water/sewer and forms a Special Assessment District, all benefitted properties in neighborhood would share the cost with the City, typically over 10-year payback period.
 Does current charter allow for airport expansion?    Yes, the Airport Master Plan contains recommended expansions and upgrades.
 How would city treat private air strips?    Currently the city allows, with a permit, airports and related services within the Institutional and Industrial zoning districts.
 Who is going to pay for all of this?    See Fiscal Impact Analysis. The purpose of the study was to determine whether revenue collected within study areas would be sufficient to cover the additional cost of providing service to those areas.  
 College Rd is currently maintained by DOT – would city maintain if annexed?    No.  Annexation would not impact any state-maintained roads.
 Knackstedt area is isolated – why not a study area?    The city heard from people in established neighborhoods who felt the city had less to offer them. Study areas were created with the goal of not impacting neighborhoods that are already built.
 East Poppy Ln…would water/sewer be extended there?    Not currently planned. If desired and this area was incorporated into the City, the city would do a feasibility study.
 Does city put fluoride and chlorine in city water?    Fluoride: no. Chlorine: no.

Sodium Hypochlorite is used for disinfection. Also, the city uses the chemical sequestration agent “AquaMeg” for iron and manganese.
 What would the mill rate rise to in order to increase police patrol and vehicles for expanded service areas?    The Fiscal Impact Analysis estimates that an increase in the City’s mill rate would not be necessary to cover the cost of extending City services such as police patrol into the study areas because additional revenue from additional property and sales taxes is anticipated to cover increased service needs.
 What are the projected costs of increasing animal control?    Animal Control is a function of Public Safety (under the Soldotna Police Department).  See the Fiscal Impact Analysis for an estimate of the cost of providing public safety in each of the 9 study areas.
 Is it illegal to discharge a firearm in the city?    Yes
 Would city enforce laws against use of ATVs on trails on DOT right-of-way?    Unknown
 Does the city restrict the number of animals a resident can have? What are business rules?    No.  The City does not limit the number of animals a person can have, however commercial kennels and properties with farm animals are limited to certain zoning districts.
 Will it cost me more in property taxes inside city limits?    It depends on an individual’s allowable exemptions. In most cases, property taxes are lower inside city limits because, in addition to KPB Admin, CES, and CPH mill rates/exemptions which are the same for city and non-city residents, if annexed, residents would pay the City of Soldotna mill rate of 0.5, instead of the Borough road maintenance mill rate of 1.4.
 Will it cost me (my business) more in sales taxes inside city limits?    Businesses inside City limits collect 3% sales tax to the City, as well as 3% to the Borough.  Businesses outside the City collect 3% for the Borough only.
 Have we heard from people that consciously chose to locate their business just outside City limits?    Some trade-oriented businesses that had consciously located outside of City boundaries due to there being no perceived benefits to being inside. Some service-oriented businesses that had consciously located inside due to perceived benefits from attractive storefronts, landscaping and foot traffic. Others just outside borders cite concerns about loss of competitive edge if annexed.
 Does mayor lose veto vote under Home Rule?    Mayor has veto powers, as authorized in Municipal Code 2.05.060.
 If annexation isn’t about money, what is the city trying to protect?  

 The City is considering annexation for the following reasons:

  • Some areas outside the city residents and businesses are already receiving city services.
  • Cost-effective planning for expansion of infrastructure where desired for health/safety reasons, or on undeveloped property prior to development.
  • Protection of sales tax base for the City by potentially including businesses who are very close or adjacent to City boundaries, but do not collect sales tax for the City.
  • Improvement to highway corridors that act as a ‘gateway’ to Soldotna.
 Why zone?   KPB delegated zoning authority to the City in the mid-80s – in general, a way to set regulations and land uses in specific areas and response to a specific neighborhood’s idea about what’s appropriate to them – different in different areas. 
Purpose of zoning (copied from our zoning code): This zoning code is adopted in order to provide for orderly development; lessen street congestion; provide for stable residential, commercial, and industrial development; provide adequate open spaces for light and air; protect and stabilize the value of property; promote fire safety and public order; protect the public health and general welfare; prevent over-crowding; and stimulate systematic development of transportation, water, sewer, schools, parks, and other public facilities.
Does the Food Bank have City water?   No
Why didn’t you go toward Sterling?    Study Area 8 does go toward Sterling and was included because of the commercial development and because it’s a gateway to the city.  
 When will water and sewer and road maintenance go into annexed areas and how much will it cost?   City would develop a transition plan to identify the implementation timeline of all services.  Road maintenance would likely be taken over from KPB immediately.  Construction of water/sewer infrastructure is reviewed according to community needs, utility system capabilities and needs, and available funding resources – therefore does not have a specific timeline. 
Do some properties receive City water/sewer services?    Yes, 22 property owners (located in 5 of the 9 study areas) are tied into City water, sewer, or both.  
 How were the original city boundaries drawn?  How did Area 1 get left off originally?  
Anecdotal accounts suggest that early residents who were interested in incorporating Soldotna as a 4th Class City drew the boundaries according to who wanted in and who wanted out.  
Who owns property in Area 2?     There are multiple property owners: Borough – leased to Tsalteshi Trails Assn & school property; Native association; State of Alaska; and the City owns property where the water tower is (there as a safety measure).  A portion of the land surrounding Arc lake is also owned by the City but it’s outside of city limits.
 What large scale development is in mind?    None.  The City is not seeking land for any specific development.