Troy Jones vies for District 9 seat on Borough Assembly
Troy Jones is a political newcomer and south peninsula businessman who hopes to defeat incumbent Willy Dunne in the race for the District 9 seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. Jones said the budget and several attempts to implement new taxes spurred him to run for the first time.
Jones is a lifelong resident of the Kenai Peninsula. His parents homesteaded near Homer in 1956, and he’s spent most of his life as a businessman.
He’s been a hunting guide among other things, and now he owns and operates East Road Services, a general contract service that does everything from septic installs to road construction and maintenance.
He’s also served as a pastor at East Gate Fellowship near the head of Kachemak Bay. Now Jones wants to add public service to that list.
“I kept expecting somebody that has the business experience and local knowledge to put their hat in the ring,” Jones explained. “I finally realized that no one else was going to do it. So, I decided to do it myself.”
Jones wants to work with Mayor Charlie Pierce, who ran on a platform of no new taxes, to cut back borough spending. But Jones said he’s not opposed to finding new revenue outside of raising taxes.
“With the things that the oil companies are doing in the inlet, with the gas line and all of that, there’s opportunities there,” he said. “But I do believe government is too big and we need to reduce that.”
Jones thinks the borough could also speed up land sales by reducing the prices on some surveyed parcels near Homer and along Kalifornsky Beach Road in an effort to put more land in private hands and on the tax rolls.
Jones also has an eye towards increasing private-public partnerships.
“Some of the things the borough is doing in house now, I would like to see those put to private enterprise,” Jones said, “look at that, how we can move things and figure out ways to do it cheaper with competition.”
Jones has firsthand experience with bidding on borough road construction and maintenance contracts, and he said the model could apply to something as small as ground keeping services at schools or even reducing the borough’s financial involvement with the Central Peninsula and South Peninsula hospitals.
The senior property tax exemption is also something Jones is willing to examine. In 2016 voters rejected a phase-out plan for the $150,000 exemption the borough provides for seniors on top of the state mandated exemption, totaling $300,000 altogether. The borough also provides a $50,000 exemption on all primary residences.
Jones notes that he would like to see an income driven model if the issue is to be reconsidered.
“If you’re over a certain level on your income, then that exemption goes away, but for low-income seniors, I don’t want to disrupt that,” he explained.
When it comes to ballot propositions, Jones thinks Proposition 1 is an expensive option. It would allow the borough to go to bond for $5.4 million in order to build a new $15 million school in Kachemak Selo.
However, Jones acknowledges the state has allocated roughly $10 million for the project and said it’s too late to make changes to the project as it stands now.
Jones does support expanding the South Peninsula Hospital service area boundary across Kachemak Bay, though he said he is opposed to the hospital benefiting from property taxes.
The municipal election is on Oct. 2.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly rejected a phase-out plan of the senior property tax exemption the borough provides. It was voters that rejected the idea when it was on the ballot in 2016.