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Merits of borough-wide sales tax discussed

Thursday, July 27, 2017
Mat-Su Borough Schools Superintendent Monica Goyette, right, addresses a question from the audience as Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey looks on during Tuesday's Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce Meeting. Photo: Matt Hickman/Frontiersman.com

Mat-Su Borough Schools Superintendent Monica Goyette, right, addresses a question from the audience as Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey looks on during Tuesday’s Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce Meeting. Photo: Matt Hickman/Frontiersman.com

Note:  This story comes to us through a content sharing agreement between KTNA and Wick Communications.  Wick owns the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Anchorage Press, and Talkeetna Press, and additional local papers in Southcentral Alaska.

by:  Matt Hickman – Frontiersman.com

WASILLA — Specifically described as ‘not a debate,’ Tuesday’s Greater Wasilla Area Chamber of Commerce meeting pitted Mat-Su Borough Superintendent Dr. Monica Goyette and Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle on opposite sides of a forum on a proposed borough-wide sales tax that could be decided on by voters as early as October.

Between them was Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey, who explained that borough rules required that he remain neutral.

“I am here to keep Bert and Monica separated,” Moosey joked. “And to verify the accuracy of statements.”

The original draft of the proposal was for a 3 percent sales tax to be approved for the October ballot at the next Mat-Su Borough meeting on Aug. 1, though Goyette said that at Wednesday night’s borough school board meeting, the administration will put forth a proposal to reduce that amount to 2 percent; this despite a poll she cited that claimed 53 percent of Alaskans would support a tax to help reduce class sizes.

(more…)

Talkeetna sewer lagoon out of compliance with permit in June

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Talkeetna wastewater lagoons tested out of compliance for fecal coliform bacteria in the month of June.

In a report filed with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Mat-Su Borough reports that the level of colony forming units of the bacteria tested at over 300. The daily maximum for the lagoon’s permit is forty units.

Talkeetna’s wastewater treatment facility has struggled with fecal coliform levels during the summer months for the last few years. Borough officials have met with ADEC in order to discuss the resolution of multiple violations of the lagoon’s permit. Those talks have not been made public, but the sewer and water system could face massive fines under the letter of the permit. (more…)

Crews work around the clock on Talkeetna dike repair

Friday, July 7, 2017
Work on the dike pauses briefly to allow a boat from Mahay's Jetboat Adventures to pass.  Photo:  Phillip Manning - KTNA

Work on the dike pauses briefly to allow a boat from Mahay’s Jetboat Adventures to pass. Photo: Phillip Manning – KTNA

Those who find themselves in and around Downtown Talkeetna late in the evening may notice a somewhat unusual sight, large trucks carrying rocks toward the river. In addition, heavy equipment can often be seen from Main Street near where the paving ends.

The trucks and equipment are part of the federally funded effort to make repairs to the Talkeetna dike. The structure was damaged by flood waters in September of 2012, and funding was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier this year to return it to pre-flood condition. (more…)

Borough: First 2017 test of Talkeetna sewer lagoon in compliance

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Talkeetna’s sewer lagoon passed its first round of tests for 2017, according to the Mat-Su Borough.

 

Borough Public Works Director Terry Dolan says the lagoon, which has struggled with compliance issues for the last few years, is now showing test results well within permit requirements.

 

Specifically, Dolan says fecal coliform bacteria levels tested very low. The presence of too much fecal coliform in the water flowing out of the lagoon was a consistent problem in recent years.

 

Dolan’s staff has taken multiple measures to try to bring the system back into compliance, including mechanical aeration, clearing of grease on the surface, and addressing excess water leaking into the system.

 

Consistent issues with the lagoon led to a notice of violation from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in 2015. The borough and ADEC have held multiple closed-door discussions on the lagoon and what level of fines and/or corrective action will be required.

 

While Terry Dolan says the current test results are good news, he hopes to see consistency going forward in the busy summer months. While this is the third test in a row that has come back in compliance, he says the months of June and August have been the most problematic for the system.

 

In the meantime, Dolan says work will continue, including manhole repairs and a video inspection of the system’s sewer lines.

Mat-Su Borough budget shrinking as population grows

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

by:  Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s budget proposal is out and it’s smaller than last year.

If approved, the budget for the fastest-growing population center in the state would shrink about $9 million to about $400 million. The plan keeps school funding about the same as last year.

The borough prides itself on having the leanest personnel to resident ratio of any municipality in the state, with one employee for every 330 residents, Borough Manager John Moosey said.

“I think what it shows is that we’re trying to provide services the most economical way possible,” Moosey said.

(more…)

Borough To Begin Budget Process on Tuesday

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Mat-Su Borough’s budget process is about to get underway, and following along may be easier than in years past.

At 1:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will hear budget proposals from borough departments. Last week, Borough Mayor Vern Halter and Borough Manager John Moosey participated in a teleconferenced town hall sponsored by AARP in order to hear the priorities of borough residents.

Recently, the borough updated the portion of its website covering meetings. One of the new features included in the update is a live video stream from the assembly chambers in Palmer. This provides an additional method for following meetings remotely. Previously, Radio Free Palmer’s audio stream was the only way to listen in on assembly meetings without driving to Palmer.

Departmental budget presentations are just the first step in a process that is anticipated to be complete by May. In recent years, that process has included special assembly meetings outside of Palmer, including one in Willow for the last two years. In those years, the Willow meetings have seen triple-digit turnouts.

 

Mat-Su Assembly Approves Expansion of Talkeetna Community Council Area

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The yellow area in this map was added to the Talkeetna Community Council area on Tuesday. Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy: Matanuska-Susitna Borough

The yellow area in this map was added to the Talkeetna Community Council area on Tuesday. Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy: Matanuska-Susitna Borough

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. (more…)

Talkeetna dike repair design on schedule, but improvement would require other funds

Monday, November 14, 2016

This month, Mat-Su Borough Emergency Manager Casey Cook provided an update to the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors on the federally funded repairs to the Talkeetna dike.

After years of applications and appeals, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved funds to repair damage to the dike caused by the fall 2012 flood. Cook confirmed information from borough engineer Jamie Taylor that the repair design is on schedule for completion in December. After completion, the design goes back to FEMA for final approval. Cook says plans are being made for work next year, including contacting the Alaska Railroad to use the train to transport the necessary armor rock. If an agreement is reached with the railroad, Cook believes it would reduce the need for trucking materials for the work through Downtown Talkeetna. (more…)

Borough finalizes sale of MV Susitna

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

As of last Thursday, the Mat-Su Borough no longer owns the MV Susitna.

 

When the borough acquired Susitna, the intent was to establish a ferry service between Port Mackenzie and Government Hill in Anchorage. While the Mat-Su Borough moved forward with the plan, the Municipality of Anchorage could not decide where a ferry dock and terminal should be placed, and the plan ultimately fell through.

 

Following years of attempts to sell the vessel, and a recent round of multi-million dollar repairs, the borough has sold the ship, a former naval prototype, to the Philippine Red Cross. The Susitna is on its way to the South Pacific, where it will be used as an emergency hospital ship for the thousands of islands that make up the Philippines. (more…)