Area-wide policing fails, assembly misses deadline
August 29, 2019
The proposition to allow police services boroughwide will not appear on the October ballot, after the assembly failed to vote on the ordinance in enough time to allow for the required 40-day notice period before elections.
“At least 40 days before each general or special election, notice of the subject of any proposition, referendum or initiative being presented shall be posted in three public places and published at least once in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the Haines Borough,” code says.
Last week, the Haines Borough Assembly voted 4-2 to hold a third special hearing on the ballot initiative after members of the public and assembly raised questions about Haines Borough charter language.
The special meeting was scheduled for Monday, two days past deadline for adopting the ordinance. With borough clerk Alekka Fullerton excused from Tuesday’s assembly meeting, staff or assembly members were unsure of the deadline for adopting ordinances.
Assembly member Sean Maidy, who voted with Stephanie Scott against postponement, called the delay an “obstruction of justice.”
“The obstruction is just too much to overlook. It’s really disappointing,” Maidy said. “Every assembly member knew what was going on and they kicked the can. “
Maidy said he’ll propose to the assembly to have a special election to vote on the ballot proposition.
Assembly member Brenda Josephson said that the ordinance was incomplete and lacked key components, such as a funding source.
“The introduction of the ordinance did not include fiscal notes to advise the public of the costs or the funding source if ratified by the voters,” Josephson wrote in an email to staff.
She also contended that current Haines Borough charter allows for “emergency dispatch” boroughwide, though borough attorney Brooks Chandler said that Haines Police does not qualify as “emergency dispatch.”
“Actual police officers responding beyond townsite limits are a component of the operation of a ‘police department’ not a component of ‘dispatch communication services’ or ‘emergency dispatch,’” Chandler wrote in an email to borough manager Debra Schnabel last week.
Schnabel said that the amendment to charter would establish the possibility of providing police services to all borough citizens. Once the power is authorized areawide, she said, the level of service and the funding mechanism could be established.
“As with all other powers except tax assessment and levy; planning, platting, zoning; and education, operation of a police department areawide could be exercised only upon intentional funding,” Schnabel said.
Reallocate sales tax fund initiative fails in assembly
A second potential ballot initiative, an ordinance that would have reallocated sales tax funds from tourism and economic development to the areawide general fund, was struck down 5-1 by the assembly last week.
In July, assembly member Sean Maidy proposed reallocating 1 percent of the revenue from the tourism and economic development fund to the areawide general fund. At the following two assembly meetings, the ordinance was amended to reallocate .3 percent, instead of 1 percent, to target unused funds.
The finance committee, comprised of assembly members Brenda Josephson, Tom Morphet, and Stephanie Scott, unanimously recommended against passage of the ordinance last week.
Josephson said that borough budget history dating back to 2013 shows that the Haines Borough uses 87 percent of the tourism economic development funds between tourism, economic development and administrative transfers.
“Maybe in the future at a lesser amount,” Josephson said. “But I really believe at (.3) percent we’re going to be missing out on an opportunity for really developing our economy and our tourism at a time when we really need to be concentrating on it all the more given the current situation in the state.”
Maidy voted in favor of the ordinance.
“We’re not going to let the people decide this?” Maidy said. “This is an inefficiency and we can fix if the people want us to, and we’re not even going to ask them?”
Remaining on the ballot will be two initiatives: to levy a 2 percent sales tax on the sale of alcohol in the Haines Borough, and a sister question to levy a 2 percent sales tax on marijuana sales.
The Haines Borough Assembly was set to meet as a committee of the whole to discuss the proposition on Tuesday, but not enough members showed up to constitute a quorum. Members Stephanie Scott, Will Prisciandaro (who resigned Monday) and Tom Morphet were absent from the meeting.
Borough clerk Alekka Fullerton said the discussion will be added to the Sept. 10 assembly meeting agenda.