Local News

Keeping jobs local a priority for assembly

The regular meeting of the borough assembly was Tuesday, March 11, 2014.

The assembly voted down a resolution updating the recommendation to transfer operations and maintenance of the Tyee hydroelectric facility to the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, or SEAPA.

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The earlier resolution, adopted on December 10, 2013, reads:

City Hall - Photo by Shady Grove Oliver/KSTK News

City Hall – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver/KSTK News

“Whereas Wrangell recognizes the many contributions that TBPA has made over the years, the bond it helped create between Petersburg and Wrangell and believes that TBPA should go into an inactive state rather than eliminate it so it may reactivate in the future if the need arises…”

The revised resolution adds the words “and the TBPC”- referring to the contributions of the Thomas Bay Power Commission. It also changes the recommendation by suggesting the TBPC rather than TBPA go into inactive state.

This type of resolution requires four votes in favor to pass. It failed by a three to two vote in favor with Mayor David Jack and assembly members Pamella McCloskey and Maxi Wiederspohn in favor and James Stough and Wilma Stokes against. Although the majority voted in favor, it was one vote shy of the required four.

That means the December resolution stands as is, without the changes.

The resolution lays out a number of suggestions for the handing over of Tyee.

SEAPA board member Brian Ashton says he would like to see the Tyee jobs stay in Wrangell.

“SEAPA’s primary goal is to provide affordable, reliable power. But, as the rate payers basically pay into this electrical organization, it’s good for us to keep those revenues in the communities as much as we can. So, being able to keep the jobs out at Tyee being based here is a way for us to have that money return back into the community,” says Ashton.

Mayor David Jack says he thinks it’s important that the current employees have job security during the transfer.

“To ensure the employees are treated fairly, to put it simply,” says Jack.

If the jobs stay in Wrangell, it keeps employees in the community they are used to. It also brings money into Wrangell. Brian Ashton says the economic impact is important to consider.

“I think you just look at the budget of what it costs for that to operate—what those salaries are. And those would be simply salaries that we don’t have here anymore. I certainly think that the salaries and the positions that we have need to be defensible. In other words, we don’t just create jobs for nothing. The jobs have to be defensible to be there. But it would be good for us to equitably spread out the economy that SEAPA creates by its existence,” says Ashton.

A portion of the December resolution that still stands asks that the jobs remain in Wrangell for two years.

Vice Mayor Julie Decker and assembly member Daniel Blake were not present at the meeting.

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