The Tuesday, March 12, 2013 Borough Assembly meeting saw the approval of most items on the agenda, community support for Senate Bill 60, and a stalemate over a proposed energy committee.
The meeting began with Helen Decker speaking about the 2012 Lemonade Day in Wrangell. Following her presentation, Mayor David Jack made a proclamation designating May 11, 2013 this year’s Lemonade Day.
The meeting continued with discussion over the controversial Alaska Senate Bill 60, introduced by Sitka Republican Senator Burt Stedman.
This legislation would put a bounty on sea otters. Alaska Natives who hunt the mammals would be paid $100 for every pelt they take.
Vice Mayor Bill Privett suggested the Assembly put forward a resolution to endorse the bill.
“These predators, if unchecked, will definitely devastate our crab and clam beds and shellfish in general. And they’re growing at an enormous rate. I don’t think that they all ought to be shot. But certainly we need to treat them as a predator and put them in the equation,” said Privett.
Several Wrangell community members spoke in support of SB 60 during the public comment period.
The bill will get its first hearing on March 13th.
Brian Ashton took the floor to recap the recent Southeast Alaska Power Agency meeting in Wrangell. He is a voting member of the SEAPA Board.
“Now what I hope happens with this energy committee is that we don’t just do a review of SEAPA as we asked for when we went into this partnership. But we should take a perspective of where we stand today with energy so that we really get a good perspective of what’s going on around us to make sure that we’re not just focused with blinders on in one way. And I think that we need to make sure that we really are abreast of all the options we have in Southeast as we make these big plans for what we do in the coming decades here for energy,” said Ashton.
The Assembly discussed the proposed formation of a regional energy committee. This committee would potentially comprise members from Ketchikan, Wrangell, and Petersburg along with SEAPA board members and energy experts.
Vice Mayor Privett said this would be a premature move. The decision to divest from SEAPA would have large consequences for each of the three communities. He said Wrangell needs to first work through the issue locally before trying to make regional decisions.
“If Ketchikan wants to dissolve SEAPA and own Swan Lake, that’s their prerogative and that’s something they’ll have to politically fight out amongst themselves and go through all that. And the same is with Petersburg, if they want to do that. I think that we’re creating a monster here rather than something we can sit down and look at. I don’t care how wonderful an idea we come up with to dissolve from SEAPA, without Ketchikan, without Petersburg supporting that, it isn’t going to happen,” said Privett.
He said he hopes Ketchikan and Petersburg will do the same. Then all three communities can come together to make a more informed decision.
The Assembly adjourned the meeting with this unfinished business. Mayor Jack said they will discuss the energy committee and SEAPA further in the next meeting.