by Phillip Manning ~ March 22nd, 2017
Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated that the expansion incorporated the entirety of the Greater Talkeetna Road Service Area. A significant portion of the GTRSA lies within the Susitna Community Council area. This story has been changed to reflect that.
On Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly has approved the expansion of Talkeetna’s community council boundary to the east.
The expansion keeps the Talkeetna River as the northern boundary, and the Sunshine Community Council as the southern boundary for as far as it extends. The newly included area is largely undeveloped, and stretches into the Talkeetna Mountains. Many neighborhoods closer to the Talkeetna Spur Road are also now part of the Talkeetna Community Council area, and the expansion means the entirety of the Greater Talkeetna Road Service Area is now inside either the Talkeetna or Susitna Council area. Only those living inside a council’s area are considered members and thus allowed to run for its board of directors.
Consideration of expansion by the Talkeetna Community Council began after the Mat-Su Borough Planning Department sent notice that council boundaries were being reviewed. Last year, a committee of Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. met and discussed various options. The one they settled on, and which the Assembly ultimately approved, matches up with the Talkeetna Comprehensive Plan. During discussions at TCCI board meetings, some members expressed a desire to make sure that the decision of which council the area would end up in was left to the local community.
Multiple letters in favor of and against the expansion were sent to the Assembly. Those in favor say they want to be sure that a community council in issues dealing with the borough or state can represent them. Before Tuesday, the newly added areas were outside of any council boundaries.
Those opposed to the expansion cited a desire for minimal governmental involvement, and feared a power grab by the Talkeetna Council. The prospect of additional taxes also caused some residents concern. As a body, the Talkeetna Community Council has very limited authority, and primarily acts in an advisory role to the borough. It cannot levy taxes, since Talkeetna is not incorporated. Service area taxes are determined by a separate set of boundaries, and are not directly impacted by the expansion. After clarification, some of those originally opposed changed their minds.
The newly expanded Talkeetna council area is a great deal larger than it was before Tuesday’s meeting. While the council has no direct governing authority over the area, the borough and other government entities generally give significant weight the opinions of community councils when it comes to projects, proposals, and other issues that would impact their council areas.
A map of the newly expanded Talkeetna Community Council area is available at KTNA.org.