City staff is looking for outside help to analyze the benefits and feasibility of annexing, or increasing, the boundaries to the north and south of the current city limits.
Following two years of discussions that have spanned nine work sessions, city staff on Tuesday requested to conduct a feasibility study to better analyze the possibility of annexation.
To the south, the city is looking to annex 2 miles that span from current city limits to the Benny Benson Kodiak State Airport.
The land being considered includes seven primary landowners, the largest being Alaska Native Urban Corporation Natives of Kodiak, which own 644 acres. In addition, around 200 acres of the land that could be annexed belongs to the city and is suitable for future development.
Annexation will also include land north of city limits in Service Area One, which includes undeveloped city property as well as the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
“Council has identified annexation as a way of responding to growth in the community that has already occurred to more accurately align Kodiak’s corporate boundaries with those that have developed over the past 80 years,” said Deputy City Manager Josie Bahnke.
Annexation would allow residents who tend to use city services to vote in local elections and for their city representatives.
“There are dramatically different rules, regulations and taxing rights,” said Bahnke about the outlying communities near the city. “The community has grown and expanded far beyond the original boundary.”
She also said that outside expertise will be critical to assist the city in moving forward with the annexation process.
Last week, the council appropriated $125,000 to pay for additional exploration into annexation. The funds would pay for outside experts to conduct a feasibility study as well as outreach to the community, she said.
The city would lean on a feasibility study to examine whether current city boundaries should be expanded and whether the city has the ability to extend services beyond its current limits.
This is not the first time the city has tried extending Kodiak’s boundary. In the late 1990s, 223 residents in Service Area One signed a petition to be annexed into the City of Kodiak.
However, because of issues with rural land grants and stricter gun laws, among others, annexation did not pass a vote by the citizens.
Since 1960, the city has annexed land on 10 separate occasions, for a total of 963 acres, during times of community growth.
The final decision to annex can either be voted on by residents — and require approval by the Local Boundary Commission and a review by the State Legislature — or it can circumvent approval by the voters and be approved directly by the State Legislature.
According to Bahnke, Kodiak was incorporated as a first-class city in 1940 with 864 residents and an area of 5.4 square miles. Today, the population is estimated to have reached 5,818 people within city limits and 12,000 with the combined populations of the city and the communities along the road system.
While the city is exploring annexation, another committee has been created to explore a different kind of boundary change called consolidation, which dissolves different governments into one government — in the case of Kodiak, replacing the separate city and borough governments with a single governing system.
City Councilor Terry Haines, who sits on the nine-member Consolidation Committee, has been vocal about his opposition to consolidation.
“I don’t think we have shown that we have a pressing need to consolidate. I would suggest that the city discontinue our participation in the Consolidation Committee,” Haines said, adding that he thinks the best method would be to put the consolidation process on hold while the city pursues annexation.
He said that while annexation does not prevent a future city-borough consolidation, consolidation would nullify annexation.