Port ordinance tabled
A proposed ordinance amending the Skagway Municipal Code to address port development, regulations and management was sent back to committee for review and redrafting following a lengthy discussion by the assembly during a regular meeting Nov. 1.
Ordinance No. 17-14 was introduced and passed a first reading in Dec. 2017. A second reading was scheduled for July 2018, but it mistakenly remained tabled until Oct. 2018.
Assembly members expressed a number of concerns regarding the document, including instances of contradictory language, unclear management hierarchies and a debatable definition of “The Port of Skagway.”
The majority of the conversation, however, focused on the establishment, definition and hiring of a Port Development Director position, as described in the ordinance. The PDD would effectively run all port operations and answer to the Port Director –currently the borough manager.
Assemblyman Tim Cochran voiced concern that the proposed hiring wage might be too low to attract qualified candidates.
This sentiment was shared by Assemblyman David Brena, who added that he felt the language in the job description was also in need of clarification.
“I don’t think that the description or the pay grade are sufficient for the person we are looking for,” he said.
Brena also said he felt having the PDD report directly to the borough manager might not be the best option and suggested the position might be more effective if given more autonomy and asked to report “indirectly to the assembly.”
Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. was the most vocal opponent of the ordinance, saying that he absolutely did not believe it was “ready for primetime.”
“It’s crossing its own wires, which tangles my wires,” he said.
Burnham said he does not believe the ordinance, as written, properly represents the will of Skagway residents.
“I don’t think it’s what Skagway wants. I think it’s what some people want,” he said. “I think a lot of people voted no on the White Pass tidelands lease because they felt that revenue generated from the port could be used in the community and this ordinance allows it to be used for the port and the port only as an enterprise.”
He also stated that he believes passing the ordinance “is a shunt to a port authority, and I don’t think the community understands what a port authority could do to it if not executed in a way that directly benefits the community.”
Following discussion, the assembly decided to send the ordinance and PDD job description back to the Finance Committee and/or Port Commission to be reworked for reintroduction to the assembly.
RV parks leased again
The Skagway Assembly voted to award Reigle Enterprises a two-year, $292,000 contract for the operation of Pullen Creek and Garden City RV parks.
Reigle Enterprises managed the facilities in 2018 and was the only bidder for the 2019-2020 seasons.
The bid amount of $146,000 annually, is an increase of $98,600 from the previous year.
Acting co-Borough Manager Heather Rodig told the assembly the increase was the result of new contract
In 2018, she explained, facility maintenance fell under the purview of Public Works, something the municipality realized was “unsustainable.”
Under the new contract, the majority of maintenance responsibility shifts to the management company, significantly increasing its operating costs.
Broadway sidewalk work
The assembly voted to hire Dahlberg Design for the continuation of the design, permitting and bid phase services portion of the North Broadway sidewalk replacement project.
The firm originally completed the project design in 2013, but it was placed on the backburner until recently.
The current contract, not to exceed $44,065, includes design review and updates, if necessary, as well as acquisition of permits, assistance with the issuance of a request for bids and construction administration services throughout the project.
Borough Manager search
The assembly voted unanimously to advance a fourth, and final, candidate to the next round of the borough manager hiring process.
John Erickson, the current City and Borough Manager of Yakutat, Alaska, was recommended to the Skagway Assembly by the Manager Search Committee following an Oct 19 meeting.
Erickson has a doctorate in education and has served as manager in Yakutat for over four years.
He previously applied for the Skagway manager position, but the assembly felt his relative lack of municipal management experience at the time deemed him unqualified.
Assemblyman Orion Hanson says he no longer believes that to be the case and said that he appreciates the fact that Erickson has lived in Alaska since the early 2000s and, particularly, that he knows Southeast.
“I was encouraged that he’s been a manager [in Alaska] for four years,” he explained. “Managers tend to roll over kind of quickly as we’ve seen… particularly in small Southeast communities. If you bring somebody from somewhere else who has never experienced six hours of light and being stuck in somewhere for a long time that can have a major effect on their experience and their willingness to be here and perform the duties.”
Following the vote on Erickson, the assembly voted 5-1 in favor of closing the application period for the manager position. The final four candidates are: Erickson, outgoing District 33 Rep. Sam Kito III, David Milliron and John Ardaugh.
Following receipt and committee review of all four candidates’ background checks, the assembly plans to convene a committee of the whole meeting to conduct interviews.
Confirmation of Appointments
The assembly voted unanimously to confirm the following board and committee appointments during its regular meeting Thursday, Nov 1:
Convention and Visitors Bureau
-Juliene Miles, alternate
-Sean Watson, alternate
Harbors Advisory Board
– Andrew Beierly
Historic District Commission
-Susannah Dowds, NPS Member