Assembly: No to mayor's road letter
The Haines Borough Assembly April 8 rejected Mayor Stephanie Scott’s request to send an opinion piece to the Juneau Empire criticizing funding of the Juneau Access Project.
The letter, Scott said, was intended “to express a sense of dismay about the way the legislature is spending your money.”
Scott pointed out the Alaska Legislature has failed to fund any major maintenance projects in schools this year, and is only funding eight of 50 projects submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Municipal Water, Sewerage and Solid Waste Matching Grant fund.
Gov. Sean Parnell has ear-marked $35 million for the road project in this year’s budget.
“What would be gained to justify placing such a drain on scarce state financial resources at this time?” Scott asked. “In the context of basic unmet needs, how can we justify spending over a half a billion dollars on a road to the Katzehin?”
“Given the tight budget and many unmet needs across the state, hard decisions will need to be made about which projects to retain and what to cut. The extreme and unstable terrain of an East Side Lynn Canal Juneau road extension will lead to escalating construction and maintenance costs that would drain statewide resources for many, many years to come,” Scott wrote.
The letter is “not exactly an anti-road piece,” Scott told the assembly. “It’s a ‘Please think about how you’re spending your money’ (piece).”
Assembly member Diana Lapham asked Scott what she hoped to accomplish by sending the letter, to which Scott responded that it was merely “a moral statement” on behalf of the Haines Borough about how the municipality thinks funding should be prioritized.
After assembly member George Campbell read from various statistics about the ferry system’s financial situation, he moved to send a delegation of Haines representatives to Juneau to discuss the issue during the remainder of the legislative session. The motion failed 3-1, with Campbell in favor.
Scott dropped the issue after the four assembly members present at the meeting failed to make a motion in support of sending the op-ed piece. Members Debra Schnabel and Dave Berry were absent.
Lapham suggested Scott send the letter to state Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, and Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, though Scott didn’t seem enthused by the suggestion.
Scott also said she would never consider sending the letter as a private citizen because that would cloud her public and private roles. “I’m not about to do that, because nobody is going to think that I’m writing as myself. I would never put you in that position,” she told the assembly.