The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Council OKs summer camps, vendors


Council OKs summer camps, vendors

Still no closer to having a handle on actual costs for City of Seward Parks and Rec department programs, the Seward City Council made some cuts to fees for summer day camps and let the matter slide until October. At the outset of Tuesday’s council meeting, two residents spoke up advocating the cuts. Jennifer Elhard said current TYC rates have placed summer camp beyond reach for some children. She recommended that councilors take a closer look at how current rates were set and whether the changes were beneficial.

Celeste Elhard-Lemme remarked that she was in favor of the resolution under consideration, 2014-046, which would cut rates back to their 2011 levels. Her stated belief was that lowering the fees would result in greater enrollment. Lemme related an anecdotal basis for her conclusions based on comments from parents of her acquaintance who most commonly claimed that TYC programs were too expensive.

Councilor Ristine Casagranda noted that there was a mistaken impression that council had been involved in setting the rates currently in effect. Comments from SPRD director Karin Sturdy emphasized that the fees were changed according to direction from a previous city council and were intended to better reflect the perceived value of the youth programs. However, Sturdy expressed regret at the fee structure set by her department, saying that they had made miscalculations she claims resulted in lower enrollment.

Councilor Christy Terry expressed exasperation at the last-minute submission of a report from SPRD intended to outline the budgetary justification for summer camp fees. She observed that the 11th-hour outline didn’t shed much light on actual costs per child and that there were inconsistencies in calculated figures. SPRD numbers reflected a peak of 70 youths per week in 2011 before the current fees went into effect. That was then compared to the 2013 average of 34 children per week.

Sturdy countered that SPRD didn’t budget their programs according to costs and that camp fees were largely based on intangibles. Sturdy also said that requests for accounting in those terms were burdensome and tied up department staff. Councilors ended up amending the resolution and passing proposed fee cuts, with Mayor Jean Bardarson noting that the future setting of fees should be addressed well in advance of summer programs. There was general agreement that the subject would be taken up again at city budget sessions in October.

Also at the meeting, Ordinance 2014-004 was enacted, amending the city code to create new categories and privileges for itinerant vendors. An accompanying resolution, 2014-048, was also passed to set policy under the ordinance. However, passage was delayed by a battery of amendments by Councilor Terry. The first proposed to cut down on the number of available locations on city property for mobile vendors to one from two in Waterfront Park and in the South Harbor Uplands.

Councilors and administration reasoned that the measure might cut down on competing entrants and diversity in merchandising. City manager Jim Hunt expressed an interest in having at least enough opportunity for separate hot dog and ice cream vendors. The amendment was voted down and the number of locations remained at seven with one on Washington Street and two apiece in Waterfront Park, the South Harbor Uplands and the Seward Marine Industrial Center.

Councilors agreed that permits for roving vendors should restrict operation on city roads and streets to the period from May 1 to Oct. 31. A third Terry amendment proposed to reduce the number of roving permits to four from seven. Councilors reasoned that during the first year, a lower number could be floated on a trial basis. The amendment passed. An amendment to restrict permits to one person or business failed and a last change to copy waitlist language into the new policy passed along with the resolution.


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