Regardless of any suggested population threshold, this criterion shouldn’t be the primary factor in determining a community rural!
A rural island subsistence hub definition should be a primary criterion that would preempt population threshold; under this criterion, population wouldn’t be a consideration, but geographic remoteness would be the primary factor.
The current 5 characteristics that are used to determine a community rural are not adequate. The Board should be looking to use characteristics that are consistent with the State of Alaska so there is no conflict and inconsistency in determining rural/non-rural. If the Board adopts the 12 criteria that the State of Alaska currently uses, this process would be consistent and those criteria are more applicable to Alaskan communities. One example would be; the State of Alaska criterion #6 discusses the variety of fish and game used by people in the community. Kodiak has a substantial availability of resources and is within imminent proximity to those who use those resources. These resources have been able to sustain our residents for more than 7000 years. This factor is more important in defining our rural community’s culture than the number of people residing here.
Aggregation of communities:
Aggregation of communities should only apply to communities that are physically connected to urban centers. Aggregation should not be used to combine rural communities in an effort to increase their population and determine them non-rural.
The board should not review community’s rural determination every ten years. Once a community is determined rural it should remain rural unless there is a significant increase in population; such as a 25% increase in full-time residents.
In determining which data sources to use, the Board should consider being consistent in the use and definition of rural vs. non-rural. USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services who regularly provide services to rural communities and have extensively reviewed and determined communities to be rural, frontier, Island and non-rural.