Garbage By the Pound plan adopted

Skagway’s Borough Assembly has adopted a Garbage by the Pound study and transition plan, which will eventually change the way the municipality charges for trash pickups.

The plan will not go into effect immediately; the total duration for the program leading up to a change is estimated to last 15 months.

It breaks down into several phases. An introductory phase will familiarize borough employees with a new garbage truck that can identify and weigh individual cans of garbage. In phase one of the plan, “mock” bills will be included with regular billing for residents, to show how much their trash weighs.

“The idea is to start educating everyone as to what we are actually doing, but mainly we’re collecting information so that we can set the [garbage] rates in a fair and economical way so that the incinerator use is accommodated, but we’re not raising the rate higher than what individuals are already paying,” Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. said at the July 19 assembly meeting.

In a May interview with The Skagway News, Burnham had said a major goal of the plan was to reduce the strain on the borough’s incinerator, hopefully increasing the lifespan of the facility.

Phase two will continue with the mock billing, with the inclusion of what the pickup will cost under the new weight-based system.

Phase three will see the rollout of a new composting system to remove compostables from the waste stream, and phase four will implement the program in full.

The current garbage truck will be repurposed for collecting food waste (compostables) from restaurants, Burnham said.

“And most likely it will be a collection fee for that,” Burnham added. “It wont be a pound thing, because it (weighing equipment) won’t be installed on that garbage truck, we’re not necessarily going to be weighing food waste.

“The main interest is to keep it from going into the incinerator, and re-use it locally as good soil.”

Mayor Monica Carlson said food waste takes an “incredible amount” of fuel and time to destroy in the incinerator.

During public comments, former mayor Tim Bourcy said he wasn’t opposed to the program, but warned that the public should be properly informed of the process.

“It wasn’t that long ago where people were burning trash in burn barrels in their yard, and there’s a lot of trash basically dumped at the side of the road,” Bourcy said. “All you have to do is go out to the old paintball site out by the cemetery and people are dumping vehicles, they’re dumping batteries…it’s a dump, and it’s on its way to being a hazmat site.

“So if you’re going to go down this path, you better be certain that the education to the public is adequate.”

The assembly adopted the Garbage by the Pound program with a 6-0 vote.

Assembly appoints pair of interim borough managers

With former Borough Manager Scott Hahn departing for a new job opportunity, the Borough Assembly voted on July 19 to appoint Borough Clerk Emily Deach and Treasurer Heather Rodig to jointly manage the municipality while a search for a permanent replacement for Hahn is held.

A timetable for hiring a new city manager was also put forward. Job flyers were distributed, and the assembly is expected to meet and review resumes and applications by Sept. 4.

Following that, application packets will be sent out to a narrowed selection of candidates.

Deach and Rodig put a proposal to the assembly, which split up the workload of a borough manager between the two of them.

All personnel and financial matters normally addressed by the manager are delegated to Rodig and Deach is tasked with all project and contract matters.

The proposal states that employees serving a role as an acting department head are paid $5 extra per hour, per the personnel policy, for a total of $8,400 in expenses from mid-July through the end of October – an estimate for the length of the job search.

Assembly Member Dan Henry commented on that compensation, and the upcoming months Deach and Rodig would be filling the position for.

“I’m going to say the city manager would make more than $8,400 in those three months,” Henry said.

He added that the pair will have to complete their own full-time jobs in addition to the borough manager’s responsibilities, an that the municipality should look at fair compensation.

Henry made a motion to amend the proposal to have 50 percent of the borough manager’s monthly compensation allocated to the clerk, and 50 percent to the treasurer, until a permanent manager can be hired.

In the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, the manager’s salary was listed at $132,625.

“The money is already budgeted and allocated and spent,” Henry said. “We have a great deal in front of us, we have experienced, knowledgeable people that can share the work for the time being.”

The motion to accept Deach and Rodig as the interim managers passed 6-0.

Confidentiality concerns continue with SDC MOU

Discussion over the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Municipality of Skagway and Skagway Development Corporation (SDC) resurfaced at the July 19 Borough Assembly meeting, specifically addressing the concerns of privacy for SDC’s prospective clientele. Assembly Member Orion Hanson had attended an earlier SDC work session, however, the group came away with the same underlying issues presented at the July 5 assembly meeting.

Tim Bourcy, SDC board president, attended the assembly on July 19 and placed emphasis on solving the SDC’s latest conundrum – how to protect public interest while also attracting new businesses.

“One of the functions of SDC is to assist incubator businesses getting started up,” Bourcy said. “All of that stuff is considered proprietary and we have an obligation with SDC.”

Although the assembly unanimously passed the agreement, SDC has yet to sign the paperwork.

Hanson questioned the SDC’s concerns on July 5, however, he has since supported their request to remain confidential in certain business ventures.

“I was asking for clarification for what kinds of entrepreneurial discussions you might have if someone may feel intimidated or not at ease to speak and I think I got some answers,” Hanson said. “I think that is a very valid discussion point, that SDC would be kind of impaired to provide the services for prospective businesses to come and look at investing in Skagway.”

Assembly Member Dan Henry also questioned the strict demands of their agreement, suggesting that they scrap the role of an ex-officio all together.

Henry believed that a quarterly report should be sufficient.

Unlike Hanson and Henry, assembly members Steve Burnham and David Brena disagreed with loosening the terms of the MOU.

Mayor Monica Carlson suggested that she could hold a workshop with the SDC executives at a later date and all of the assembly members approved of her motion.

This conversation was a last-minute addition to the agenda under the section, “unfinished business.” The motion to supply time for SDC members to speak during the July 19 meeting passed by a vote of 5-1.


Skagway man chosen for position with state Elks

More than 10,000 Members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America and guests gathered in San Antonio, Texas, from July 1-4, for the BPO Elks’ National Convention and the Elk’s sesquicentennial celebration.

During the convention, Andrew Cremata of Skagway was installed as District Deputy to the BPO Elks national president for lodges in the East District of the Alaska State Elks Association. He will serve a one-year term.

The BPO Elks spends over $80,000,000 every year for benevolent, educational and patriotic community-minded programs in the United States.

According to a press release, this year the Elks Order anticipates it will donate approximately $353 million in cash, gifts and time to help the needy, students, people with special needs, active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces and their families, veterans and charitable organizations.