Local News

Assembly to discuss pesticides, sales tax, logging

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The Borough Assembly is holding its regular meeting this evening at City Hall.

The assembly has several large items on the table for discussion.

Before the meeting, the public is invited to comment on a proposed ordinance to lower the city’s consumer sales tax from seven percent to five and one half percent.

This is the second reading for this item at the assembly. That means, if it passes tonight, voters can expect to see the actual proposition on the ballot this fall. During the borough election this October first, voters will be the ones to decide if the tax is lowered or stays the same.

Also up for discussion is a controversial decision by the Alaska Department of Transportation or ADOT.

Earlier this year, the ADOT adopted a regulation allowing it to spray herbicides and pesticides along Alaska’s highways—and other state property. The catch is that the ADOT doesn’t need a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation and doesn’t need any public review before it starts spraying somewhere.

Petersburg’s Borough Assembly sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Pat Kemp about the regulation. In the letter, Vice Mayor Susan Flint writes:

“The Petersburg Borough is very concerned that this action denies our citizens the right to participate in the decision-making process and jeopardizes our community. The broad application of herbicides and pesticides can and does affect drinking water, aquatic habitat, and impacts traditional food gathering areas.”

The Borough of Haines voiced its concerns in a similar letter.

At tonight’s meeting the assembly will discuss authorizing Mayor David Jack to send a letter on behalf of Wrangell.

Also on the agenda is a request by ALCAN Forest Products to lease a portion of the Former Institute Property. It’s to access to the Mental Health Trust land that they’ll be logging. In response to public concerns, Alcan’s request has changed a bit.

They’d be given access to a 100 foot easement where they’d put in a new logging road. There would be a gate between the Mental Health property and Borough property. All usable timber along the road would be given to Alcan. And they’d be able to use the property for 18 months.

In exchange for land use and timber, the Borough would receive $17,000. It’s been recommended that these funds be placed into an account to help market and develop the property in the future.

Alcan originally wanted to store timber on the land. But they’ve taken that off the request.

Next on the agenda– the Marine Bar and Hungry Beaver is changing hands again. And the tidelands underneath it may be coming along, too.

Former owner Patricia Kautz sold the property to Ken Trammel five years ago. But, he got behind in his payments. Rather than foreclosing on the property, Kautz is asking that the business and land beneath it be transferred back to her. Trammel agreed, and now they’re asking the City for approval to reassign the lease.

Finally, at tonight’s meeting there will be an executive session about finding a replacement for Borough Manager Tim Rooney, who is moving to Oklahoma in early August.

Tune in to KSTK or listen online for live coverage of the public comment period beginning at 6:30pm followed by the Borough Assembly meeting at 7pm.

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