March 21, 2013 | Volume 43, No. 11

Heli-skiing legal fees: $3,500

The Haines Borough attorney billed the borough more than $3,500 in January for issues related to heli-skiing, chief fiscal officer Jila Stuart said this week.

Brooks Chandler billed the borough for 17 hours of work – $3,570 – under the “heli-skiing” category on his January invoice. The borough renewed commercial tour permits in January for three local heli-skiing companies, including Alaska Heliskiing.

Clerk Julie Cozzi issued a 15-page memo outlining her reasoning behind the controversial decision to give Alaska Heliskiing a permit following its breaches of state law, borough code, and the company’s own safety plan during the 2012 season. An Alaska Heliskiing client and guide also died in 2012.

Borough manager Mark Earnest said while the memo “was Cozzi’s work, it was reviewed by the attorney.” The memo “certainly had a review and a lot of input from the borough attorney,” he said.

Cozzi said she “worked with (Chandler) quite a bit,” but that she prepared the final version after on-going back-and-forth communications between the two.

“I couldn’t even come close to guessing what percentage is this, or when did this happen,” Cozzi said when asked how much of the memo Chandler was responsible for. “I did what I had to do, and I utilized another borough officer – the borough attorney. We had lots of conversations. I proposed language; he proposed language.”