Why is Soldotna talking about this again?
The City of Soldotna pursued annexation of four neighboring areas of the Borough from 2005-2008. At the end of that period, the City Council authorized the City to submit a formal petition to the Local Boundary Commission, but that approval was later vetoed by the Mayor.
Since that time, Soldotna has continued to grow, and the areas outside have grown even faster. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, according to Census data, Soldotna’s population grew 11%. During that same time period, Sterling grew 19% and K-Beach grew a whopping 34%. Much of this development is adjacent or very near to our existing city limits, and in some cases our City infrastructure is serving properties outside (for example our water and sewer service currently serves properties outside the City on the Kenai Spur Highway, Funny River Road, and K-Beach).
We believe the demand for land in our area will continue, and that growth – both inside the City and outside – is inevitable. Annexation is not the cause of this growth, but one strategy our community can use to efficiently plan for services in areas that demand them.
Has the City already made the decision?
No. The City Council has authorized an economic analysis, to evaluate the cost of delivering city services to areas outside our existing City limits, as well as revenues those areas would contribute for the services. The results of the study were released on June 13, 2016, and will be the subject of a City Council Work Session on June 22, 2016, at 4:45 pm in the Council Chamber. City staff will also be holding an open house on Thursday, June 30th from 4:00 - 7:00 pm at the Gilman River Center, located at 514 Funny River Road in Soldotna. The public is invited to attend the open house to ask questions, discuss the report, and share feedback about the findings.
The City's comprehensive plan, Envision Soldotna 2030 was adopted in 2011 after a 2-year public process. Though the plan primarily focuses on goals and policies inside the City limits, it does include a section called 'Regional Growth and Development' which discusses Soldotna's role in the broader region. This section included a goal to, "Explore annexation to promote orderly high-quality development, cost-effective extension of public services, protection of the City's sales tax base, and protection of the natural environment" (pg. 57).
The goal does not advise that the City proceed with annexation, but recommends that the City commit to a transparent public process, involving the public and giving them a variety of ways, to thoroughly study the issue.