Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/10/2000 01:55 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
           HB 133-VOTER APPROVAL OF SERVICE AREA CHANGES                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  PATTY SWENSON,  staff  to Representative  Con  Bunde, made  the                                                            
following  comments.    SCS  CSHB  133(STA)  will  strengthen  local                                                            
control  of service  areas.   Article  10,  section  1, of  Alaska's                                                            
constitution established  a principle of maximum self-government. To                                                            
achieve  maximum self-government,  Article  10, section 5,  provides                                                            
for  the creation,  alteration,  and  abolishment of  service  areas                                                            
subject to provision of law.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AS   29.35.450  codifies   these   constitutional   provisions   and                                                            
establishes  a  mechanism  by  which  service   areas  are  created,                                                            
altered,  and abolished.    A service  area  is one  in which  local                                                            
residents  assess themselves  to provide for  a particular  service.                                                            
Currently, there are over 250 service areas statewide.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SCS CSHB 133(STA)  amends AS 29.35.450  to support local  control by                                                            
prescribing  a  majority  vote  mechanism   under  three  scenarios:                                                            
abolishment  of a  service area;  abolishment and  replacement  of a                                                            
service area; and alteration  of a service area or combining it with                                                            
another  service area.   SCS CSHB  133(STA) will  settle the  debate                                                            
about who is  entitled to vote during  the creation, alteration,  or                                                            
abolishment of a service area.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CON  BUNDE  stated  SCS  CSHB  133(STA)  allows  for                                                            
smaller local government  and to operate less expensive communities.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MACKIE asked if there is any opposition to the bill.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUNDE  stated the  Municipality  of Anchorage  (MOA)                                                            
opposes it  because it limits the  MOA's capabilities pertaining  to                                                            
home rule.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  KELLY asked  if the bill  will primarily  pertain to  road                                                            
service areas.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUNDE stated it will  apply mainly to road  and fire                                                            
service areas.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MACKIE asked if Fairbanks is concerned about the bill.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUNDE stated  yes,  there are  180-190 limited  road                                                            
service areas in Fairbanks.   They would like to consolidate some of                                                            
those service  areas and save administrative costs.   This bill will                                                            
allow them consolidation but a variation in taxation.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. MIKE  PRAX, Fairbanks  North  Star Borough  Assembly,  expressed                                                            
concern  about  trying   to  control  the  administrative   expenses                                                            
generated by the diversity  of services that people enjoy.  Mr. Prax                                                            
stated support for SCS CSHB 133(STA).                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. GERSHON COHEN,  representing himself, stated Haines  is the only                                                            
third class  borough in Alaska.   Mr. Cohen  referred to a  planning                                                            
and zoning issue that occurred  in Haines two years ago which caused                                                            
the  borough  to  change  the  planning   and  zoning  service  area                                                            
boundaries.   As a  result, 97 percent  of the  planning and  zoning                                                            
service  area was removed  from the  Mud Bay Land  Use Service  Area                                                            
(MBLUSA)  and that removed  control  for planning  and zoning.   Mr.                                                            
Cohen stated support for SCS CSHB 133(STA).                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROB GOLDBERG,  Chairman of MBLUSA,  stated the borough  assembly                                                            
agreed  to   reduce  the   size  of  the   service  area  and   that                                                            
gerrymandered  the borough's  power.  Next  month, MBLUSA is  facing                                                            
abolishment  under  a proposed  ordinance,  and the  borough  hasn't                                                            
given a reason  for that.  Mr. Goldberg stated support  for SCS CSHB
133(STA).                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KELLY  asked if SCS CSHB  133(STA) authorizes planning  and                                                            
zoning service areas.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SWENSON stated she believes they are authorized.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KELLY asked if  it was Mr. Goldberg's intention to set up a                                                            
planning and zoning service area.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. GOLDBERG  stated yes.   In a third class  borough, the  only way                                                            
citizens can  get planning and zoning  is through service  areas and                                                            
the only  power they have  is to collect taxes  for education.   The                                                            
service area in Haines has been in place for 10 years.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  KELLY stated this  bill incorporates  road service  areas,                                                            
fire service areas and planning & zoning service areas.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS added parks & recreation service areas.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEVIN  RITCHIE, Alaska  Municipal League  (AML), stated  the AML                                                            
focused mainly  on section  3 which requires  a vote within  the old                                                            
and new service  area.  AML adopted  a policy statement in  November                                                            
that opposes  legislation to mandate  fragmented service  area votes                                                            
in boroughs.  Some boroughs  now exercise this as a home rule power;                                                            
it is  a decision  that can  be made  locally.  The  people in  that                                                            
community  have  the ability  to work  within  that  system to  make                                                            
changes.  The  issue that could arise if a vote is  mandated is that                                                            
if one  service area  exists with  150 people  and a subdivision  is                                                            
added,  the vote must  be affirmative  in both  old and new  service                                                            
areas.  AML believes  voting is a choice that each  municipality can                                                            
make.  AML does not oppose  the section allowing the municipality to                                                            
have differential  rates within a service area.  Mr.  Ritchie stated                                                            
opposition for the bill but support for section 3.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. MIKE  SCOTT, Mat-Su  Borough Manager,  stated SCS CSHB  133(STA)                                                            
implies the  State is stepping in  and stopping local control  in an                                                            
area where  there is an  elected assembly.   Every municipality  has                                                            
the  ability to  put a  petition  together to  appear  on the  local                                                            
ballot.   SCS CSHB 133(STA)  would limit local  control in  a second                                                            
class borough.   Local assembly laws  should not be undermined  by a                                                            
mandatory  State law.   Mr.  Scott stated  opposition  for SCS  CSHB
133(STA).                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. JIM SWING, Public Works  Manager for the Mat-Su Borough,  stated                                                            
the Mat-Su Borough has  erosion control service areas, flood control                                                            
service  areas, and  water &  sewer service  areas.   In  Talkeetna,                                                            
water &  sewer issues can  only be served  within the service  area.                                                            
The borough has received  requests for services from people adjacent                                                            
to the service area.  Public  works has no power outside the service                                                            
area.   If SCS  CSHB 133(STA)  passes, it  would require  a vote  of                                                            
people  inside and  outside  that service  area.   If  a borough  is                                                            
serving people outside  a service area, then the service area should                                                            
be expanded.   Mr. Swing stated concern and opposition  for SCS CSHB
133(STA).                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 382                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. OCIE  ADAMS, representing  himself, stated  general support  for                                                            
SCS CSHB 133(STA).                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JIM NORCROSS,  representing  himself,  referred  to the  Mat-Su                                                            
Borough  consolidation  issue.   Mr. Norcross  asked Representative                                                             
Bunde to explain section 4(b).                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE replied  section 4(b) states that service areas                                                            
that  want  to  maintain   two  different  levels   of  service  and                                                            
consolidate to save administrative  costs can do so and maintain the                                                            
original level of taxation.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. NORCROSS  asked if service area  funds would be used  to upgrade                                                            
services for the service area that was annexed.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUNDE stated  no, not without  a vote of the  people                                                            
who are effected.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN KELLY  asked Mr. Scott if  the Mat-Su Borough had  proposed                                                            
language for the bill.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCOTT stated  yes.  The borough has concerns about  the tax cap,                                                            
home rule boroughs,  and third class  boroughs.  He stated  he would                                                            
speak with Mr. Grenn in Chairman Kelly's office.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 456                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUNDE stated no municipality likes  to see its power                                                            
limited.                                                                                                                        

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