Soldotna project planning takes long-term view

May 30, 2018

The Soldotna City Council got a look at a new way to consider their community’s long-term infrastructure planning. It’s through a long-range planning document that sets out overlapping timelines and budgets. 

“It typically helps with scheduling public improvements, it allows us to purchase land ahead of time, help with financial planning so we could stabilize tax rates through debt management,” said Public Works Director Kyle Kornelis. “It does things like avoid mismanagement like paving a street and tearing it up the next couple years to put in a utility underneath it. It offers opportunity for public input, and it just contributes to best management at the city.”

This document looks ahead five years and is a combination of two different kinds of planning that was done before, according to City Manager Stephanie Queen.

“Because it’s both a planning document and a budgetary document, it kind of accomplishes both things. So really, in years two, three, four and five, because they’re not committing us to any projects, it’s more a planning document, we’re less drilling down on funding and what that might look like,” Queen said. 

“But certainly year one when we come back with that budget, which will likely look a lot like you see here, this FY19 plan, we’ll be able to explain exactly where that funding comes from and what impact that will be to fund balance. And we’ve even talked about next year looking at if the document could be a six-year document where the first two years are real budget, real numbers.”

The city has previously compiled capital improvement lists and debated their relative worth on the council before submitting the requests to the state and federal governments. The process though, according to Kornelis, is becoming less rewarding.

“Typically in the fall what we’ve done is we put together a legislative priority list which is historically a wish list that we transmit to the state and the federal delegation. It generally has been the genesis of our legislative grants,” Kornelis said. “We continue to do that. We debate every fall if we should continue to do it because its relevancy has obviously diminished over the years since there is no state capital budget the last couple of years. But we still feel it’s important to communicate our community needs.”

Kornelis went on to discuss funding options and other aspects of the five-year plan. Before answering questions from the council on the current CIP list specifics.