Assembly approves water, sewer utility rate increases

A resolution increasing sewer rates by seven percent and increasing water rates by five percent each year until 2022 has been approved by the Borough Assembly.

At the April 5 meeting where the resolution was passed, Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. said a study done several years ago suggested the municipality’s rates were lower than is sustainable. The five and seven percent increases are much lower than the study recommended be put into practice, Burnham said.

Those rate changes break down to an approximate $3 per year increase for water and a $2 annual increase for sewer for a residential single-family home, according to Assembly Member Tim Cochran.

“We haven’t raised the rates since 2005, and cost of operations keeps going up,” Cochran said. Assembly Member Orion Hanson commented that such increases are the norm, and that the concept isn’t a radical one.

“It’s inflation, you’ve got to keep paying a little bit more because the cost of living keeps going up,” Hanson said. “I think we’re all used to that. Milk goes up, gas goes up, bread goes up – cost of running the sewer plant goes up too.”

The increase was approved 6-0.

Mayor reads proclamation supporting Lemonade Day

In advance of Lemonade Day – a June 9 event that teaches children entrepreneurial and business skills – Mayor Monica Carlson issued a proclamation in support of the event.

“Lemonade Day exists to infuse today’s youth with the spirit of enterprise, teaching the basics of business and entrepreneurial skills necessary to become successful, contributing members of their communities,” the proclamation states.

Lemonade day is a national event, but is hosted locally by the Skagway Development Corporation.

To register for Lemonade Day, or for more information, visit lemonadeday.org/Alaska.

Nahku uplands management plan approved

The Borough Assembly has approved a management plan for the uplands portion of the Nahku Bay Conservation Area.

The ordinance lays out a list of allowed recreational and commercial uses, though there are very few of the latter uses that are permitted.

“I think we’ve talked about this [for] several meetings, and I think it’s a pretty thorough ordinance and plan, and I fully support it,” Assembly Member Orion Hanson said.

Allowed recreational uses include fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing and many more. The ordinance was approved 6-0.

Assembly tackles gauntlet of Recreational Vehicle agenda items

The topic of Recreational Vehicles was most plentiful at the April 19 Borough Assembly meeting, with six items on the agenda relating to the subject in some form or another.

First discussed was the second reading of an ordinance implementing a code amendment, which, according to Borough Manager Scott Hahn’s staff report, increases the allowed density for conditionally-permitted RV parks.

“There’s been some thought put into this to make the use of our RV parks match our code,” said Assembly Member Orion Hanson. “The whole concept of it is, it’s density, you’re getting a lot of people in a small space.”

This ordinance was approved 6-0.

The assembly next held a public hearing and second reading over an ordinance which amends the Fiscal Year 2018 budget to reflect new projected revenues and expenses in the municipality’s RV parks.

“Due to more active municipal management this season, the current budget must reflect the estimated expenses and revenues of both the Garden City RV Park and the Pullen Creek RV Park,” Hahn’s report said. The borough is estimating revenues from the parks at $200,000, a number Hahn told the assembly he’s “extremely confident” in. Expenditures are estimated at $80,000, with a $120,000 transfer from the General Fund to Capital Improvement Projects Fund. The motion to approve the budget amendment passed 6-0.

A resolution establishing a three-year plan to temporarily provide annual permits for habitation of recreational vehicles on private property was next on the list. The resolution lays out regulations and requirements needed to obtain such permits, such as undergoing a life-safety inspection, and that RVs be properly connected to water and sewer utilities.

“The intent is that this plan will coincide with the development of a new RV park over the [Skagway River] bridge, and during the time the resolution is in effect the Municipality will allow seasonal workers to inhabit RVs with particular restrictions,” Hahn’s report says. “When the resolution sunsets, the Municipality will begin strictly enforcing SMC 15.15 governing the habitation of RVs.”

Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. asked Shane Rupprecht, Skagway’s permitting official, if the code would be enforceable in three years time.

“If we currently have code that prohibits this that isn’t able to be enforced, is there any possibility that in three years we’ll be able to enforce it?” Burnham asked.

Rupprecht said the applicable code has not been enforced strictly because of how many people are currently living in trailers in Skagway.

“If we go 100 percent in on enforcement, there’s going to be a lot of people with nowhere to live and nowhere to go,” Rupprecht said. “So this was an attempt at trying to not only allowing for our businesses to find other means of housing over a three-year time period, but it also allows us to possibly develop an alternative RV park across the bridge that would accommodate these RVs.” This resolution passed 6-0.

“This is not designed to be a permanent solution,” Hanson said. “It’s designed to sunset in accordance with our plans to develop an RV park across the bridge, which we’ve authorized the engineering for and that’s happening now.

“I want the public to know we’re working this in-step with developing a RV park across the bridge, and then changing the way Garden City is functioning into high-density housing.” The whole affair is part of a long-term plan, Hanson said.

Also discussed was a resolution amending fees for use of the Garden City and Pullen Creek RV parks. The new fees, which were approved by the assembly 6-0, make the daily fee for an RV occupied by two people $45, with an additional $5 per person over a certain age. The daily fee for tents was also changed; this is now $10 per two people per day, and $5 additional per additional person.

Finally, the assembly approved the purchase of new laundromat equipment for Garden City, and awarded the Garden City RV electrical upgrade project to Chatham Electric.

The contract with Chatham came down to a 5-1 vote; preceding the roll call was a discussion on whether or not to award the contract to an “unresponsive” bidder, who had submitted the lowest total bid.

“We’ve got a situation where two [bids] are non-responsive because the guy didn’t sign his bid, the other one didn’t fill out a certain bonding exemption checklist,” Hahn said at the meeting. “And one of the two, Auke Bay [Electric], which was non-responsive, is the actual lowest bid.”

Chatham had bid $42,785, while Auke Bay had bid $34,890.

Hanson said that Auke Bay made a “minor clerical error” in filling out the forms, and that awarding it the contract would save the municipality money.

Some assembly members had concerns about potential litigation by passing over the lowest responsive bidder, however.
Hanson motioned to award the contract to Auke Bay, but the motion failed 2-4, with Hanson and Assembly Member David Brena for.

Assembly Member Dan Henry voted to award the contract to Chatham, which passed 5-1, with Hanson against.

-DF