RCMP musical ride planning continues

An August performance of approximately 32 Royal Canadian Mounted Police horses may have changed venue. Though the Borough Assembly had previously given approval to host an RCMP Musical Ride at the field behind the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad Depot, a proposal by the Skagway School District provided another option: hold the event at the school’s ball field.

The RCMP had selected the Seven Pastures Ball Fields as its first-choice location for the event, with the Boat Harbor Staging and Paint Shop Lot as second-best and the field behind the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad Depot as third.

Public Works indicated to the assembly that the horses could tear up the ball fields at Seven Pastures, damage that could be pricey to repair.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Cody Jennings said the RCMP is open to the idea of holding the event at the school ball fields, though they are concerned about the distance between the fields, their warm-up area and staging area. At press time, Jennings said there were to be more meetings between borough departments on the event, and that things are still subject to change.

Fees for tour bicycles adjusted

A paired resolution and ordinance were approved by the Borough Assembly on May 18. The ordinance amends definitions in Skagway’s municipal code relating to vehicles and guided tours by vehicles. It also strikes bicycles from the list of commercial passenger vehicles, a category including buses, vans, motorcycles and motor scooters.

The resolution adjusts the fee schedule related to tour vehicles.

Both pieces of legislation originated from a request by Sockeye Cycle Co.’s owner and employees to re-examine the wording of municipal code as it related to tour vehicles and bicycles.

At the May 18 meeting, Sockeye Cycle general manager Dustin Craney thanked the assembly and Public Safety Committee for discussing the issue following Sockeye’s initial letter.

There was some discussion by the assembly between setting the fee for bike registration at $5 or $1. Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. said the $5 figure was arrived at because it does take municipality staff and resources to run through the registration process. Craney said Sockeye Cycle has 94 bikes in its tour fleet.

The registration fee was changed to $5, and the amended resolution passed 5-0.

Assembly allocates CPV funds towards Woodstave Water Tank project

Skagway’s Borough Assembly has committed and restricted $1,125,800 in Commercial Passenger Vehicle Excise Tax funds to be used for total debt retirement of the state of Alaska’s loan for the Woodstave Water Tank project. The assembly passed a resolution detailing that commitment of funds at its regular meeting on May 4.

CPV excise tax is imposed on passengers traveling on commercial passenger vehicles that provide overnight accommodations, and anchor or moor in the state’s marine waters with the intent to allow passengers to embark or disembark.

These funds are meant to be used for port and harbor infrastructure, or to provide services to the cruise ships and their passengers. The state watches how CPV money is spent carefully. The Cruise Lines International Association filed a lawsuit against the city and borough of Juneau in April 2016 over a usage of CPV funds to build a $10 million, life-sized whale statue. An audit of Southeastern Alaska municipalities’ use of CPV funds followed.

Hahn said it is clear to him that the municipality does not need an additional water tank for its 1,000 residents.

“The only reason this was happening is because of the cruise ships, the impact of the cruise ships, and taking care of the people who come here for those visits would require that we have another well and another water tank,” Hahn said.

Given the cruise ships’ impact on the borough’s water levels, Hahn said this action by the assembly is a good use of CPV funds.

In addition to the first resolution, the assembly also voted in favor of another piece of legislation that approved the report “Estimating 2016 Cruise Ship Visitor Impact,” and supporting the document’s application to help the assembly in determining appropriate uses of CPV funds. The municipality actually commissioned the study in 2008 for the same purpose, and recently contracted for the report to be updated to remain relevant in the current year.

Both resolutions passed 5-0.

Assembly receives letters of interest for open seat, extends submission deadline

More time has been granted to people looking put their name forward for the open Borough Assembly seat. At a recent meeting, Skagway’s assembly voted to extend the deadline to submit letters of interest until 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30, with an Assembly of the Whole Meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31 to consider the letters of interest collected. The assembly will make the appointment at its regular meeting on June 1. At press time, the municipality has received letters from Monica Carlson, Nathan Helmer, Karl E. Klupar, Dominic D. Rotier and Candace Cahill.

The seat that is up-for-grabs was recently vacated by Angela Grieser, and will expire in October 2017. At that time, whomever is appointed has the ability to run for reelection, if they choose to.

Welcoming Garden resolution approved

The Skagway Borough Assembly has approved a resolution affirming the municipality’s commitment to establishing a welcoming garden. At its May 18 meeting, the assembly voted 5-0 to approve the resolution, and also selected a site for the garden’s location.

The municipality’s budget process is not finalized, but at press time, a sum of $5,000 was still allocated towards funding construction of the garden. Assembly Member Orion Hanson said the resolution is a “good gesture,” given that Skagway plays host to tourists and cruise ship crew from all over the world.

“I think the basic premise of what’s here is that we do want people to feel welcome and safe in Skagway,” Hanson said. “Whoever they are.”

Liquor license granted for Arts Council barbecue event

The Borough Assembly has granted a liquor license for an upcoming Blues, Brews & BBQs event, taking place at the Dedman State on Saturday, July 15. The event will feature a beer garden from 3-11 p.m., a selection of barbecue and live music – blues of course. The event is organized by the Skagway Arts Council.

Assembly hangs up ability to teleconference into executive session

The Borough Assembly has given approval to legislation disallowing the mayor and assembly members to participate in closed-door executive sessions via teleconference.
Originally, the ordinance prohibited calling in by telephone completely, but at the May 4 meeting, Assembly Member Spencer Morgan asked that the ordinance be changed to refer to “teleconference” rather than “telephone,” so that an absent member of the assembly could stay up-to-date with an executive session discussion – provided they call in on a private line.

The concern was related to the assembly’s teleconference unit, according to Morgan, which presents the opportunity for undisclosed parties to join an ongoing call at will.

“I think we need to have the ability to be part of the discussion,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s motion to amend the ordinance passed 5-0, but final approval of the ordinance was delayed on May 4 to further clarify the wording of the piece. Bob Blasco, the borough’s attorney, weighed in on the matter and provided the assembly with suggested amendments for its May 18 meeting. The amendments drew clear reference to the municipality’s teleconference system, and allow participation in executive session only via private and secure telephone or cell phone, with the stipulation that any person participating in such a manner state there is no one else present and listening to the call.

The assembly both approved adopting Blasco’s amendments and passed the ordinance on second reading 5-0.

-DAN FOX

RCMP musical ride planning continues

Photo: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in action during their last performance in Skagway. PHOTO BY JEFF BRADY

An August performance of approximately 32 Royal Canadian Mounted Police horses may have changed venue. Though the Borough Assembly had previously given approval to host an RCMP Musical Ride at the field behind the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad Depot, a proposal by the Skagway School District provided another option: hold the event at the school’s ball field.

The RCMP had selected the Seven Pastures Ball Fields as its first-choice location for the event, with the Boat Harbor Staging and Paint Shop Lot as second-best and the field behind the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad Depot as third.

Public Works indicated to the assembly that the horses could tear up the ball fields at Seven Pastures, damage that could be pricey to repair.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Cody Jennings said the RCMP is open to the idea of holding the event at the school ball fields, though they are concerned about the distance between the fields, their warm-up area and staging area. At press time, Jennings said there were to be more meetings between borough departments on the event, and that things are still subject to change.

Fees for tour bicycles adjusted

A paired resolution and ordinance were approved by the Borough Assembly on May 18. The ordinance amends definitions in Skagway’s municipal code relating to vehicles and guided tours by vehicles. It also strikes bicycles from the list of commercial passenger vehicles, a category including buses, vans, motorcycles and motor scooters.

The resolution adjusts the fee schedule related to tour vehicles.

Both pieces of legislation originated from a request by Sockeye Cycle Co.’s owner and employees to re-examine the wording of municipal code as it related to tour vehicles and bicycles.

At the May 18 meeting, Sockeye Cycle general manager Dustin Craney thanked the assembly and Public Safety Committee for discussing the issue following Sockeye’s initial letter.

There was some discussion by the assembly between setting the fee for bike registration at $5 or $1. Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. said the $5 figure was arrived at because it does take municipality staff and resources to run through the registration process. Craney said Sockeye Cycle has 94 bikes in its tour fleet.

The registration fee was changed to $5, and the amended resolution passed 5-0.

Assembly allocates CPV funds towards Woodstave Water Tank project

Skagway’s Borough Assembly has committed and restricted $1,125,800 in Commercial Passenger Vehicle Excise Tax funds to be used for total debt retirement of the state of Alaska’s loan for the Woodstave Water Tank project. The assembly passed a resolution detailing that commitment of funds at its regular meeting on May 4.

CPV excise tax is imposed on passengers traveling on commercial passenger vehicles that provide overnight accommodations, and anchor or moor in the state’s marine waters with the intent to allow passengers to embark or disembark.

These funds are meant to be used for port and harbor infrastructure, or to provide services to the cruise ships and their passengers. The state watches how CPV money is spent carefully. The Cruise Lines International Association filed a lawsuit against the city and borough of Juneau in April 2016 over a usage of CPV funds to build a $10 million, life-sized whale statue. An audit of Southeastern Alaska municipalities’ use of CPV funds followed.

Hahn said it is clear to him that the municipality does not need an additional water tank for its 1,000 residents.

“The only reason this was happening is because of the cruise ships, the impact of the cruise ships, and taking care of the people who come here for those visits would require that we have another well and another water tank,” Hahn said.

Given the cruise ships’ impact on the borough’s water levels, Hahn said this action by the assembly is a good use of CPV funds.

In addition to the first resolution, the assembly also voted in favor of another piece of legislation that approved the report “Estimating 2016 Cruise Ship Visitor Impact,” and supporting the document’s application to help the assembly in determining appropriate uses of CPV funds. The municipality actually commissioned the study in 2008 for the same purpose, and recently contracted for the report to be updated to remain relevant in the current year.

Both resolutions passed 5-0.

Assembly receives letters of interest for open seat, extends submission deadline

More time has been granted to people looking put their name forward for the open Borough Assembly seat. At a recent meeting, Skagway’s assembly voted to extend the deadline to submit letters of interest until 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30, with an Assembly of the Whole Meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31 to consider the letters of interest collected. The assembly will make the appointment at its regular meeting on June 1. At press time, the municipality has received letters from Monica Carlson, Nathan Helmer, Karl E. Klupar, Dominic D. Rotier and Candace Cahill.

The seat that is up-for-grabs was recently vacated by Angela Grieser, and will expire in October 2017. At that time, whomever is appointed has the ability to run for reelection, if they choose to.

Welcoming Garden resolution approved

The Skagway Borough Assembly has approved a resolution affirming the municipality’s commitment to establishing a welcoming garden. At its May 18 meeting, the assembly voted 5-0 to approve the resolution, and also selected a site for the garden’s location.

The municipality’s budget process is not finalized, but at press time, a sum of $5,000 was still allocated towards funding construction of the garden. Assembly Member Orion Hanson said the resolution is a “good gesture,” given that Skagway plays host to tourists and cruise ship crew from all over the world.

“I think the basic premise of what’s here is that we do want people to feel welcome and safe in Skagway,” Hanson said. “Whoever they are.”

Liquor license granted for Arts Council barbecue event

The Borough Assembly has granted a liquor license for an upcoming Blues, Brews & BBQs event, taking place at the Dedman State on Saturday, July 15. The event will feature a beer garden from 3-11 p.m., a selection of barbecue and live music – blues of course. The event is organized by the Skagway Arts Council.

Assembly hangs up ability to teleconference into executive session

The Borough Assembly has given approval to legislation disallowing the mayor and assembly members to participate in closed-door executive sessions via teleconference.
Originally, the ordinance prohibited calling in by telephone completely, but at the May 4 meeting, Assembly Member Spencer Morgan asked that the ordinance be changed to refer to “teleconference” rather than “telephone,” so that an absent member of the assembly could stay up-to-date with an executive session discussion – provided they call in on a private line.

The concern was related to the assembly’s teleconference unit, according to Morgan, which presents the opportunity for undisclosed parties to join an ongoing call at will.

“I think we need to have the ability to be part of the discussion,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s motion to amend the ordinance passed 5-0, but final approval of the ordinance was delayed on May 4 to further clarify the wording of the piece. Bob Blasco, the borough’s attorney, weighed in on the matter and provided the assembly with suggested amendments for its May 18 meeting. The amendments drew clear reference to the municipality’s teleconference system, and allow participation in executive session only via private and secure telephone or cell phone, with the stipulation that any person participating in such a manner state there is no one else present and listening to the call.

The assembly both approved adopting Blasco’s amendments and passed the ordinance on second reading 5-0.

-DAN FOX