Assembly delays vote on SPH service area move
A proposal to remove Ninilchik from the South Peninsula Hospital service area has been delayed, and more changes could accompany the measure.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly postponed its vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would move SPH’s service area boundary south of Ninilchik. That move would cost the hospital about $220,000 per year in tax revenue and would balloon to about $430,000 as Ninilchik residents slowly stop paying for some of SPH’s debt over time.
The ordinance’s sponsor, Dale Bagley, told fellow assembly members Tuesday that he now wants to move the line to the midway point between Homer and Soldotna, which is just north of Ninilchik, after hearing opposition from SPH and the Ninilchik Traditional Council.
“We attended the hearing down in Ninilchik, and we definitely heard concerns from the hospital and the clinic that’s there,” Bagley said. “So, the current proposal and the $220,000 number that’s been put out there included Ninilchik. So, I wanted to move that north to the Barbara Point area.”
The tribal government has formally opposed the move, citing loss of services from SPH providers at its clinic. Bagley’s amendment would allow the clinic to remain in the service area.
But the assembly declined to approve the change. Southern peninsula representatives Kelley Cooper and Willy Dunne said they want more information before they vote on the amendment.
“The idea of moving the proposed line to north of Ninilchik just throws in a whole bunch of factors that we don’t have data on, and we need time to get some information,” Dunne said.
Bagley also announced prior to public testimony on the ordinance that he will propose another measure that would expand SPH’s service area to the south in order to help make up for lost revenue.
“I’m also planning at the next meeting to include something to include the area south of Kachemak [Bay] and just wanted to let people know that I’m planning on doing that,” he explained.
Bagley told KBBI that he plans to include Port Graham, Nanwalek and areas surrounding Seldovia. If the assembly approves the ordinance, the Seldovia City Council has the ability to pass its own ordinance that would allow the city to be part of the move upon voter approval. If the council takes no action, Seldovia residents’ votes would be counted separately to make that determination.
If the assembly approves the ordinance, both residents in the current SPH service area and those who would be affected by the new boundary would vote on the measure. Bagley said that proposal will be up for introduction on May 15. The assembly will revisit the boundary issue near Ninilchik at its regular meeting on June 19.