Scott Arndt, who is seeking reelection to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly, is no stranger to local government.
Arndt has served on the Service Area 1 Board for 40 years, since the board was first convened in 1979. In addition, he served on the Fire Protection Area 1 Board for more than 30 years, and has been on the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Solid Waste Advisory Board, the school board, the architecture review board and the borough lands committee.
He moved from Wisconsin to Kodiak with his family when he was 10 years old. His father, who worked in construction, got a job on the Kodiak Navy Base in 1962.
Arndt has been in Kodiak ever since, leaving only to earn a degree in business and accounting at Western Washington State University.
Since then, Arndt has been involved in construction, where he’s “done a little bit of everything.”
Arndt said supporting the borough schools is a big part of why he has chosen to run for reelection.
“I went through the school system here. My four kids went through the school system here. And now I have five grandkids in the school system here,” he said. “Education is big for myself, my kids and grandkids.”
Previously, Arndt was elected to the assembly for three-year terms in 1983 and 1997. He was appointed to the assembly in November 2018, replacing former assembly member Matt Van Daele.
Arndt said that if elected, he hopes to serve on the assembly for a single term.
The Kodiak Daily Mirror reached out to assembly candidates to get more information about their reasons for running and what they hope to accomplish. Here are Arndt’s responses.
Kodiak Daily Mirror: What compelled you to decide to run for a borough assembly seat?
Scott Arndt: I got appointed at the end of November last year to fill out Matt Van Daele’s term. In the course of this, we have had tremendous cuts by the governor. I’m trying to help with that. It’s my intent to fight for the education money this coming year. It’s anticipated that the governor will propose cuts to K-12 that I think are unfounded. I plan on fighting that. There are a lot of problems right now and I think I can help sort through them. I’d like to be part of the solution.
KDM: What experiences have you had that best prepared you to fill this role?
SA: I think all of the involvement helps me to understand what’s going on in all of the things that the borough does, be it the landfill, school construction, or school support. It all helps.
One needs to be willing to change their mind on things, and there are times when the public has changed my mind. To me, it’s important to get the public to the meetings so they’re on the record.
KDM:What do you think are the biggest issues facing the borough currently?
SA: Right now, the single biggest thing is the school bond debt reimbursement. In the current fiscal year that’s about a $2.6 million shortfall. If the governor goes through with his proposal to eliminate that completely next year, that will be $5.4 million, which is a tremendous hit on the taxpayers and property owners. Basically, it would take the equivalent of four mills to replace that shortfall. That’s a $1,200 hit on a $300,000 house.
Education is the biggest part of the borough budget, and it’s anticipated that the governor is going to be coming after the K-12 education support from the state, which will hit the borough hard. I don’t know where we can get it all. I think it’s the state’s responsibility for education, and I think we need to hold them to that. I don’t mind paying our fair share, but it’s getting a little ridiculous with the cuts coming our way, on top of the cuts to the marine highway system. We have more battles ahead of us.
KDM: How do you hope to address these issues?
SA: We need to look at our personal property tax. We need to be as fair to the taxpayers as possible. We need to look within our current budget and see what can be eliminated to help fund this. We reduced two staff members at the borough in the current budget, and I think we can continue to look at that and just take a look at what we’re spending money on that we can maybe do without for a while.
KDM: Are there any pieces of legislation or topics of discussion that you are particularly looking forward to addressing if elected?
SA: I don’t think a lot of these topics are any fun, but I don’t mind the hard issues — looking at what our options are and potentially making some hard decisions. But I’m interested in feedback from the public.
We need to take a look at our tax system, and what things we can do to spread the burden for paying for the things that the state is throwing back on us, versus just throwing the burden on homeowners. We need to take a look at what we’re doing in the personal property tax system.
KDM: What are the biggest challenges you foresee in your role as a borough assembly member?
I try to be prepared for issues. A lot of times it’s been addressed 20 or 30 years ago. On the assembly, I probably have the most history, so I’m able to tell the rest of them how we handled things before.