Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Sosa gives 80-day view of job


Haines Borough Manager David Sosa assessed his first 80 days on the job at a town hall meeting last week, telling about 50 residents that his goals so far include improving personnel procedures and increasing communication between the administration and the public.

Sosa also identified issues that have come to his attention during his three-month tenure, including the borough not requiring permits for its own activities.

The question recently came to light when the borough installed a $12,500 trailer behind the administration building on Third Avenue. When asked by planning commissioner Heather Lende why the borough didn’t have to obtain a temporary use permit for the trailer – which is what any other property owner in the townsite would have had to do – staff said the borough didn’t need to obtain a permit from itself.

Sosa looked into borough code and investigated if other Alaska municipalities require self-permitting, though the results were “inconclusive.” He then asked borough attorney Brooks Chandler if the municipality should be permitting its own activities; Chandler said it should.

“I said, ‘OK, we’ll fix it,’” Sosa told the town hall audience. “We’re going to be open about the work we are doing.”

Sosa is working with staff to develop “an appropriate process that will address this concern,” he wrote in a recent report.

Other concerns Sosa has heard from staff and residents thus far include improving ice delivery and resuming Sunday fuel sales at the Small Boat Harbor, increasing employee training, engaging with the media to improve transparency and cleaning up borough property.

Sosa also pledged to uphold borough code “honestly, faithfully and impartially,” referring to the code as “a living, breathing thing” that provides boundaries and sets standards for the community.

In his recent manager’s report, Sosa urged residents to familiarize themselves with the code, especially parts that generate the most violations: sales and property tax, business licenses and permits, control of dogs, littering and nuisances, and parking.

“The borough is more actively enforcing requirements of code and will continue to do so,” Sosa said.

Sosa said improving communication and information-sharing with the public, especially through the use of technology, is one of his top goals. Sosa said he wants members of the public with questions and concerns to contact the relevant department heads and borough staff instead of calling or emailing him all the time.

“I’m probably the least qualified person to deal with your issue,” Sosa said. “I might not get to your issue today or tomorrow. They’ll probably get to it right away.”

Other goals outlined by Sosa included improving personnel procedures, clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the assembly and administration, and fostering community and economic development.

Sosa took questions from several community members at the end of his presentation. Questions involved solid waste management, public land use issues, extension of water and sewer mains, and downtown revitalization.