Assembly accepts Rooney resignation letter
With a group of books, toys and other educational aids from the Wrangell Early Learning Collection on display, the Borough Assembly met on Tuesday night. Among items discussed was the acceptance of Borough Manager Tim Rooney’s resignation.
The Borough Assembly officially accepted the resignation of Borough Manager Tim Rooney during their June 25 regular meeting and cleared the path for Borough Clerk Kim Flores to advertise the position both statewide and nationally.
After a unanimous vote accepting the resignation, Assembly member Christie Jamieson spoke about her feelings on the tenure of Rooney as the administrative head during the past three-and-a-half years.
“I would like to thank Tim for all of his hard work and efforts,” Jamieson said. “You’ve really built Wrangell up to what it should be and I think you have been a very successful Borough Manager.”
Rooney’s final day in office will be Aug. 9.
In Rooney’s regular report to the Assembly he highlighted the work the city is pursuing regarding a replacement for Wrangell Medical Center’s aging campus. According to Rooney, Borough staff, WMC leadership, and USDA officials Tammye Trevino and Jim Nordlund are working on a reapplication for federal money to back the project.
“The meeting was overwhelmingly positive,” Rooney said. “Both Ms. Trevino and Mr. Nordland reassured us that funding would be available to provide a loan for this project and, in fact, the process is not anticipated to be as competitive as securing the funding that was associated with the (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds. We were encouraged to take the time necessary to make sure the re-application is accurate and reflects the needs of the community and healthcare services given changes in national policy, regulations, and market realities.”
Another scoping regarding a possible Wrangell Island timber sale was also included in the report.
“Staff has been informed that the Wrangell Island Timber sale is going out for its third scoping,” Rooney said. “The volume of timber available if all requirements of the Forest Plan are stringently met has dropped approximately 30 mbf from when the project was first conceived. The Forest Supervisor has determined that it is a significant change and wants to re-notice the sale in the Federal Register and seek an additional 30 days of public comment.”
According to Rooney, alternatives range from approximately 50 million-board-feet to about 125 million-board-feet.
Under the “Capital Projects” section of Rooney’s report he informed the Assembly about a pair of on-going issues.
Regarding the replacement of the Marine Travelift at the Marine Service Center, the Borough is currently working out design options and details for a planned 300-ton marine hoist with Italian firm Ascom SpA.
“Within the next month staff should have final drawings for approval,” Rooney added.
Regarding the Cassiar Street improvement project, Rooney said plans are bid-ready and that city staff is waiting for the final grant documents from DEC to be issued and for easements to be finalized before putting the project out to bid.
“It is anticipated that some work on utilities could begin this season with the remaining work to be complete next summer,” Rooney said.
One of the more controversial matters to erupt recently in both Assembly and Planning and Zoning Commission meetings has been the timber cut scheduled to take place near the former Wrangell Institute property. Rooney informed the group about the on-going work to prepare the site for harvesting by Alcan Forest Products.
“At the June 13, 2013 regular meeting, the Wrangell Planning Commission approved a request for a Temporary Use from Alcan Forest Products to utilize a portion of the fenced in area of the former Wrangell Institute property for log storage, and to construct a logging road through the back portion of the former Institute property to Mental Health Trust land,” Rooney stated. “The request was approved with the following conditions; the log storage area will be cleaned of bark and debris and returned to its original state prior to use. If any fuels are spilled, the contaminated area should be excavated and replaced with clean material; Establish a permanent gate between the Institute Property and Mental Health lands at the end of the harvest period; Provide road signage during use periods to warn of logging truck traffic, and; Install proper culverts over resident creeks for fish passage.”
Alcan still needs to develop a formal proposal to submit to the Assembly that will allow a lease of the land and implementation of the use permit granted by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The Assembly also undertook a first reading of the ordinance that, if passed by voters in October, would see the Borough’s sales tax rate drop from 7 percent to 5.5 percent.
The text of the ordinance, if passed, would read, “The consumer sales tax is levied in the amount of five and one half percent (5.5%) of the sales price of all retail sales, on all rents, and on all services, made, paid or performed within the municipality.”
This year’s general election in Alaska is set for Oct. 1.
In other Assembly news, the group approved leases for Lots 5, 6, and 7 at the Marine Service Center, as well as a senior property tax exemption for Wrangellite Nadine Phillips.