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Assembly declines to form energy committee


Greg Knight

Helen Decker receives a proclamation regarding her service to the community of Wrangell during the 2012 Lemonade Day event. Wrangell’s 2013 event is set for May 11.

After a civic presentation on “Lemonade Day 2012” by Wrangell teen Helen Decker, three attempts to pass a motion that would have set up an “energy committee” to study future divestiture plans from the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, the decision to form such a committee was halted after disagreement over membership was raised.

Assembly member James Stough modified the original motion, saying he wanted to see membership in the committee include citizens or officials from Petersburg and Ketchikan, Wrangell’s partners in the two-dam SEAPA pool.

“The committee makeup should be Assembly members, public members, Thomas Bay board members, our SEAPA board member, and I think it should include representatives from Petersburg and Ketchikan,” Stough said.

That recommendation brought opposition out of both Vice Mayor Bill Privett and Mayor David Jack.

“I guess I don’t oppose if a member from Petersburg or Ketchikan want to participate,” Privett said. “But I don’t know that it is necessary because they, at the same time, have to deal with this subject on their own.”

“I agree somewhat,” Mayor Jack said. “I believe your motion is overbroad. A special committee is to be formed for a specific purpose and not branching off into other areas.”

Ultimately, the initial motion failed on a 2-2 vote with Privett and Jack voting against it. Members Wilma Stokes and Stough voted in favor. Privett then restated the original motion, which did not include outside membership. That motion failed for lack of a second by any member – and Stough then restated a different motion altogether, which he subsequently removed and asked for more discussion to take place at the March 26 meeting.

A motion that passed, however, formed a “technology committee” to work on behalf of the Borough’s needs technological needs. Mayor Jack appointed Stough, Borough Manager Tim Rooney and school district employee Matthew Gore for fill the three positions.

Rooney’s bi-monthly report covered a number of new and on-going items of interest to the community.

According to Rooney’s report, the City and Borough of Wrangell, in conjunction with Southeast Conference and Carson Dorn, Inc, will be conducting a household hazardous waste collection event on Saturday and Sunday, May 25-25, at the Wrangell Transfer Station. During the event, Wrangell residents will be able to bring paints, thinners, and other household chemicals to the Transfer Station for disposal free of charge.

The planned renovation of Cassiar Street also loomed large in Rooney’s report, with a special emphasis paid to an environmental analysis study.

“R&M Engineering-Ketchikan has submitted their 65 percent plan review set of design drawings to allow staff review for the Cassiar Street Roadway & Utility Improvements project,” Rooney wrote. “After an initial assessment of the project and the granting agencies’ requirements for environmental analysis (EA), it was determined that the effort toward an EA will be minimal. After review of the 65 percent drawings, staff will return review comments, allowing R&M to continue to the 95 percent plan review level of design.”

The second phase of paving at the Marine Service Center will reportedly go to a Haines-based company.

“The City and Borough of Wrangell received two bids. PND prepared a bid summary of the itemized bid schedule from each bidder,” Rooney stated in his report. “After a review of the bids and the funds available to complete the project, a recommendation has been made to award the construction contract to Southeast Road Builders of Haines, Alaska, as the low bidder.”

The contract with Southeast Road Builders will be worth $4.535 million, as well as a contingency not to exceed $453,527.25.

Borough Finance Manager Jeff Jabusch also included a report on Wrangell’s financial status – and explained that the report was delayed due to the Borough’s financial settlement with Noel Rea and six former Wrangell Medical Center board members.

“It should be noted, as is referenced in Mr. Jabusch’s memorandum, that the completion and release of the Financial Statements was delayed until the litigation against the former Hospital Administrator and the six recalled WMC Board Members was resolved,” Rooney wrote. “This was done so that the financial reporting of both the City and Borough of Wrangell and the Wrangell Medical Center was not adversely impacted.”

Jabusch, in his report, painted a solid and stable picture of Wrangell’s financial state.

“The 2012 Fiscal Year was a financial success overall and the City and Borough of Wrangell remain in a solid financial position. Because a good portion of our funding comes from federal and state sources, this can change in a hurry. State Revenue Sharing and Secure Schools are two examples of that,” Jabusch stated. “One of these is tied to the price of oil and the other is tied to the federal budget. In 2012, we received over 2 million dollars between the two of these and both are in question to continue at existing levels. To give you an idea of the impact, all our property taxes raise 1.5 million. This will be discussed during the 2014 Fiscal Year Budget.”

The Assembly also voted to approve a resolution accepting a loan worth up to $493,589 from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for the renovation of sewer pumps. A second resolution providing for the sale of Borough-owned property at Lot 3A, Block 65, Wrangell Industrial Park Subdivision III Replat to Brett Woodbury was approved in the amount of $22,300.00.

The next meeting of the Assembly is set for March 26 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.


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