Haines police chief Heath Scott has withdrawn from consideration for police chief and public safety director of Unalaska. He was one of two finalists for the position.

Scott applied for the job on March 30. At the time, he was motivated to apply largely because of the Haines Borough’s budget uncertainties, Scott said.

The application came on the heels of community discussion about police funding. In February, Scott told the Public Safety Commission that the police department lacked adequate funding for 24/7 policing, and the borough should either increase to a six-person force; increase overtime and standby hours for a five-person force; or reduce to a 16-hour-per-day, four-person force. After the proposals received pushback, the following month, Scott proposed a flat-funded budget.

Scott removed his name from consideration for the Unalaska position on June 25, a day before he was scheduled to travel to the community for an onsite visit.

“I removed myself from consideration because of several factors, mainly the supportive relationship I have with my staff and the community,” Scott said. “My family feels deeply connected here.”

City of Unalaska officials said Scott withdrew via an email in which he cited the community’s remoteness and limited health care infrastructure.

Unalaska human resources manager Michelle Murdock said it’s unusual for candidates to withdraw right before the onsite visit, the final stage in the application process. Scott went through three rounds of interviews, which narrowed the field from five or six candidates to the two finalists. The next step in the process would have been to make an offer to one of the candidates, Murdock said.

The Unalaska job is the fourth position Scott has applied for since becoming Haines Police chief in 2016. The other positions include jobs in Wrangell, Petersburg, and at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Scott said ongoing uncertainty related to his job, policing budgets and borough management motivated the decision to apply for jobs outside Haines.

“Past applications were based on contract duration and uncertainty,” Scott said. “I find it difficult to disconnect from the work I do when I go home. When you have this type of commitment to your profession and you deal with budgetary uncertainty from year to year, as well as ever-changing borough managers, you need to continually assess the future.”

Scott said there is room for improvement in the working environment in Haines.

“I believe a stable working relationship comes from a stable working environment, and we as a community have work to do in that department,” Scott said.

Before Unalaska, Scott applied to run Wrangell’s police department. The Wrangell job offer coincided with the renegotiation of Scott’s contract. In exchange for remaining in Haines, he received a $10,000 pay increase, bringing his salary to $110,000 through June 2021, with the possibility for future raises after that. The contract lasts through June 2024.