by KTNA Staff ~ September 19th, 2011
By Sondra Porter–According to our Borough Assemblyman Vern Halter, the current bond packages for roads and schools are “a steal of a deal.” Both Halter and School board member Sarah Welton traveled to Talkeetna Friday evening to explain and ask for support for the current bond proposals. Voters will be deciding on these measures in a special Mat Su Borough election on October 4th.
Welton focused on Ballot proposal 3. This proposal addresses capital improvements for Mat Su schools. Welton said, “This measure contains something for everyone.” In the $215 million proposal, a sizable hunk of the fund is set aside for new construction, which is needed especially in the Knik-Goose Bay area. She sited sub-standard conditions at Iditarod, Pathways and Colony that needed immediate attention. However, warming huts, playing field improvements, energy upgrades and flooring replacement are also proposed for the Upper Valley schools of Trapper Creek, Talkeetna and Su Valley as well.
Welton reminded voters that idea behind the large bond is to address all the needs for the next five years in a single vote. If voters approve the five-year proposal, new bonds will be issued beginning next year and phased over a five-year period. She said no additional request would be made for at least five years. The State of Alaska should reimburse the borough 70% of the total. The tax burden to homeowners is projected to be $64 million. The estimated cost to a homeowner with property valued at $200 thousand would be $12.40 a month.
Halter also asked for support for both bonds, but focused on the Roads Proposal. The $ 32 million road bond package offers road and trail projects in every Assembly district, but the projects are largely located in the core area. Halter specifically addressed the safety concerns arising from the growth in the Borough. The Borough population has increased by over 88 thousand residents in the last decade according to the latest census. (more)
A portion of the bond is dedicated to lower Valley trails. Earlier Mayor DeVilbiss vetoed the transportation package largely because of the inclusion of trail projects. The Assembly override trumped the mayor’s veto in order to let the voters decide at the polls. Road Bonds are expected to be reimbursed 50% by the state. All bond reimbursement by the state is subject to Legislative appropriation.
Road and school construction will “prime the pump” of our local economy by providing jobs next summer if this bond passes according to the Assembly. Mat-Su local contractors will be invited to bid on all projects.
The forum was sponsored by the Mat-Su Democrats at Twister Creek Brewhouse and with around 40 residents from the Borough attending.