Frequently Asked Questions:
If a community wishes to become a home rule city through incorporation and the borough in which it resides objects, can the borough through a legal challenge stop the incorporation process AND has any borough successfully challenged or stopped a community from exercising the Home Rule option?
Anytime a petition for incorporation or otherwise is filed with the Local Boundary Commission (LBC), it follows a process that allows for maximum public input. During the two public comment periods, anyone
has the opportunity not only to submit comments, but also to file responsive briefs. This second option is available to anyone with the
capacity to sue or be sued as it’s defined in regulations. A responsive brief is essentially a longer comment, and allows the respondent to be a part of the eventual public hearing. At the hearing, which follows two reports from staff and those public comment periods, a respondent can present their case (in opposition or in support) and call witnesses. There is no cross examination in LBC hearings, but commissioners can ask questions.
The borough or any private citizen can become a respondent, but no one
can stop the incorporation process in the court system. However, after a decision by the LBC at the public hearing and decisional meeting, there is a period for reconsideration by the LBC. After this process,
then decisions can be appealed to the superior court.
There is no known borough that has challenged a home rule city incorporation successfully. Though one case that is relevant is an
annexation petition from the City of Fairbanks in 2008. The Fairbanks North Star Borough objected and appealed, but ultimately lost . . . To the LBC, an incorporation petition for a home rule city, or a general law (first or second class cities) is the same except that the Home Rule petition is required to include a charter. Any community with the requisite number of people can file a petition to incorporate.
Can the borough stop us from becoming an incorporated city?
No. The Alaska State Boundary Commission IS the authority on determining IF and HOW Nikiski may become a city. However, the KPB may submit their opinions to the Local Boundary Commission for consideration.
Won't another level of government increase our taxes?
Your taxes may even decrease while maintaining the same level of services. How can that be? Last year, Nikiski area property taxes paid over $2.2 million dollars to the KPB, most of which went to other service areas within the borough budget - $1.6 million through the Road Service alone! Plus, as a city, Nikiski will be allocated revenue directly into our area first, followed by the borough (4.51 mil) and then the state. More importantly, with the possibility of AKLNG coming to Nikiski, the industrial tax base is going to increase significantly. The City of Nikiski will receive that revenue first, which would give the City the opportunity to reduce private property tax-payers mil rates and decrease personal property taxes. If Nikiski is not organized, the potential added income brought by AKLNG prosperity will go back into the KPB general budget and distributed to other areas.
Who will be our Mayor & Council Members?
At the same time Nikiski voters decide if we are to become a city, the voters will elect those positions.
What would this mean as far as local law enforcement?
An incorporated home rule city would have the power to create and maintain a city police force. The home rule city is not required to exercise police powers but MAY exercise these powers. IF Nikiski residents want a police force in the future, the option must go to a vote of the people before that additional service could be implemented by the City of Nikiski.
What type of benefits or reasons are there for Nikiski to consider incorporating?
Our resources (your tax dollars) are given to other areas in the borough. When Home Depot wanted to come to the peninsula, they contacted the Kenai city government. When Fred Meyer wanted to come to the peninsula, they contacted the Soldotna city government. When businesses want to come to Nikiski, like all the support businesses for the AK LNG, there is NO local NIKISKI seat of government to contact- the only option is for them to approach the KPB authorities to make decisions that ultimately affect our community. Since Nikiski only has one vote (1/9) on the borough assembly, Nikiski is consistently out-voted. Other communities, such as Homer, where their city government rejects larger industry development, reaps the benefits of Nikiski hosting industry.
How big will Nikiski be?
The Alaska Boundary Commission favors local governments and pre-existing areas. The City of Nikiski petition defines the geographical areas to be the same as the current Nikiski Fire Department area.
Would becoming a home rule city limit any of my freedoms and activities:
The purpose of incorporating into a home rule city is NOT to impose more control and government restrictions on the people of Nikiski, but rather it is for the purpose of securing Nikiski’s independence and its economic future advantage to our community. By creating our OWN city charter we will create an environment where you will still have the freedoms to build on your property as you see fit with no city permits or intrusion of a building inspector. You will still have the freedom to have hobby farm animals and livestock as you desire on your property. There will be no restrictions on riding side by sides, razors, four wheelers and other ATV’s unless prohibited by Federal/State law or posted by private property owners.
Why would I want to pay for another layer of government cost?
Traditional methods of providing local government services have in many cases resulted in levels of bureaucracy and waste that are unacceptable. By following the Public Private Partnership (P/P/P) model of Sandy Springs, GA, Nikiski has the opportunity to provide its citizens lower costs and better service through competitive bid, short term contracts for services other than core functions such as public safety and parks & rec.
What about the cost of creating a new infrastructure like a city hall?
As a “home rule” city, there would not be a need to create a large infrastructure for operations. The city would accept the responsibility of the services provided by the existing borough service areas (*Fire Department, Senior Center, Roads, Recreation). The current Service Area buildings (Fire Stations, Recreation Center) would become city buildings. “City Hall” can easily be incorporated into an existing structure. Plus, with the prevailing Nikiski opinion that ‘less government is best government', Nikiski residents can elect a volunteer Mayor and city council members. The only administrative paid positions would be a city manager and small support staff – much less than the $1.6 million that is currently being paid and disappearing within the borough. Additionally, the borough has over $7.8 million in “fund balances” - established from our tax dollars for our service areas - which the city should receive. As with any government however, it will be critical that Nikiski voters go to the polls and VOTE the right representatives into office that will continue to represent YOUR values of small local government.
When will we vote?
The Boundary Commission timeline generally will take 12-18 months to complete all necessary requirements to go to a vote of the Nikiski residents.