Local News

Borough Assembly plans for future projects

The Borough Assembly met Tuesday night to discuss capital project funding and other administrative topics. They unanimously passed the Capital Improvement Projects list that was discussed during last week’s work session and will submit it to the State Legislature to request funding. Among the funding requests are $1.8 million for the new Wrangell Medical Center building and $4 million for the boat yard improvements. Smaller projects include money for the school’s fire alarm system and Wrangell Cooperative Association’s new carving facility.

This year’s capital improvement project list is coming with a unique addition. City Manager Tim Rooney explained that “they also identified a list of projects under $100,000 that we could give to the legislature as well for when they have that extra money at the end and they’re always looking for small projects to use it.”

Those projects include pool locker replacements, two new police vehicles, and a plan for Volunteer Park.

Top on the list for the more expensive requests is $627,000 for replacing the city’s oldest sewer pumps. The pumps are close to 35 years old and are experiencing frequent failures. City workers also have trouble finding the costly parts needed to repair them. The city has applied for grants for the project but has not secured all of the funding. At the meeting the assembly decided to accept a 20-year loan from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for $196,000 at an interest rate of 1.5 percent. Rooney says this may help them secure more grant funding for the project.

“We have applied for grants for this, but in the event that we don’t receive the grant funding we have been approved for a loan. We can use the loan money for a match if we get the grants and actually by preliminarily approving the loan it helps us score higher on the grant applications.”

The state legislature will consider the capital project requests during the upcoming legislative session.

Also during the meeting, two Wrangelites were appointed by the mayor and the assembly to sit on the Southeast Alaska Power Agency Board. Brian Ashton will fill the voting seat. Clay Hammond beat out Ernie Christian for the alternate seat.

In related business, the assembly decided to discuss a review of SEAPA during the February 12 meeting. The Memorandum of Understanding that created SEAPA requires an independent review of the organization by the end of 2014. Assembly members wanted to start the project early because of the difficulties of coordinating work between three separate communities.

This was the final assembly meeting of the year.

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