As Soldotna continues to gather information regarding expanding its city limits, it has brought on an Outside consultant to help. Megan Picard, with the Athena Group near Denver, says most of the input so far has been from outside the city.
"We haven't heard much from existing city residents and businesses, and we kind of want to know why that is," she said. "Perhaps it's neutral, perhaps they don't believe anything will change with city services once they're expanded, or taxes or anything like that. But we want to make sure that we know that. That's definitely unknown things."
To boost comments, a new interactive online forum was launched on September 1st, and will be up through the end of October.
"We really encourage people to get on there early and often throughout the two months, to share their perspective, even if their perspective is neutral. Because the more people we hear from the better information ;the city has about what the broader community wants or doesn't want," she said. "And that is intended to be an ongoing conversation."
And starting in a few weeks, Picard said there will be open houses and community discussions about annexation, with city staff from different departments on hand to answer any questions that come up.
"So if somebody wants to know what's going to happen to their property taxes, especially with the exemptions, that would be a really great place for them to go get their specific questions answered," she said. "We'll also be holding some more focused discussions, among them, we want to have some conversations with businesses in the area to see how they are feeling about it, and what their concerns may be and see if there's any potential for mitigating those concerns."
Picard says this latest push for input on the annexation question stems partially from a sense that the issue has been dragging on.
"You know this conversation has been going on for awhile, and I think some folks feel that they're done having this conversation," she said. "But we know there are lots of people who've heard it, but not participated, so in order for the city to really truly know, we've got to hear from them, whether they're for, against or neutral. Or somewhere in between.")
The city of Soldotna has identified nine different areas around its perimeter that it could ask the state's Local Boundary Commission for annexation.