October 10, 2019
The Haines Borough Assembly canvassed the municipal election on Tuesday, tallying an additional 63 outstanding absentee votes.
Candidates Gabe Thomas and Paul Rogers were elected with 592 and 480 votes, respectively. The assembly moved to appoint the third highest vote-getter, Zephyr Sincerny, with 471 total votes, to be seated at the Oct. 22 assembly meeting.
“The reason that Zephyr would not be seated until the next assembly meeting is to give time for a demand for a recount or an election challenge,” borough clerk Alekka Fullerton said Tuesday. “Since somebody theoretically could challenge whether Zephyr was the third highest vote-getter, we cannot seat him until the election is certified.”
Voters rejected auditing an additional 2 percent sales tax on alcoholic beverages by a total of 678 votes, but accepted imposing a 2 percent sales tax on marijuana products with 615 votes.
Voter turnout totaled 48 percent.
LED lights to be installed downtown
The Haines Borough will replace 57 streetlights and about 20 fluorescent lights on public buildings with LED bulbs, paid for by $48,228 in matched grant funding from Wells Fargo and Alaska Energy Authority.
Borough grants administrator Carolann Wooton secured the funding last month by leveraging $15,000 of capital improvement project funding, money the borough assembly previously allocated to be spent of four LED lights in front of the school.
“It was an opportunity to leverage money we had already allocated to spend, but we were only going to get four lights out of it,” Wooton said. “If we could take that money and leverage it to get way more lights, that’s what we want to do. It just seemed like a way to get more bang for our buck.”
The Haines Borough will pay $21,980 towards the project, including $15,000 from the CIP fund, and $6,000 in labor. There are a total of 153 standard streetlights that remain to be updated, Wooton said, and 114 that have previously been converted to LED in past years with capital improvement funding.
LED lights are more energy efficient, and brighter than standard lightbulbs.
The borough’s public facilities department will contract Alaska Power & Telephone to install the bulbs when the grant is awarded, Wooton said. The date has not been set.
Lily Lake Waterline repair complete, under budget
The Haines Borough’s emergency contract with Southeast Roadbuilders to repair improperly installed waterlines from Lily Lake was completed this week, coming in about $112,000 under budget.
Last month, the assembly authorized a $150,000 emergency contract to address a past contractor’s error. During 2010 construction, contractors left a short hump in the gravity-fed line that, exacerbated by drought conditions, forced mandatory water restrictions in town this summer.
Southeast Roadbuilders worked on the line from Sept. 24 to Oct 2. The project totaled $37,846, paid for by the water enterprise fund.
The savings in budget came from an easier scope of work than the department projected.
“It went much better than we thought it might go,” public facilities director Ed Coffland said. “We knew that there was bedrock and that was the reason that the pipeline wasn’t installed back in 2010 the way it was supposed to be, but we didn’t know how much rock would be involved in removing that high spot.”
Instead of drilling and blasting the rock, contractors were able to excavate 99 percent of it with a backhoe, Coffland said. They finished the job with a rock breaker.
The water source is back up and running at about 90 percent, Coffland estimates. He said it will take a few weeks for the air trapped in the pipe to dissipate and be absorbed into the water.
The unspent funding will remain in the water enterprise fund.
Assembly funds State Fair
On Tuesday, the Haines Borough Assembly unanimously approved allocating $20,000 from the Tourism Promotion and Economic Development Funds to support the Southeast Alaska State Fair.
In April, the borough manager released a draft budget, included $20,000 with the recommendation that the assembly spend it on the fair.
Kari Johnson, executive director of the fair, requested the funding in a letter to the assembly dated Sept. 25.
“The Southeast Alaska State Fair, lnc.,provides opportunities for community members and visitors to celebrate heritage, creativity and social exchange,” she wrote. “Besides the annual, four-day Southeast Alaska State Fair, the Fair organization hosts the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Brew Festival; the Haines Fishermen’s Community Salmon Barbecue; Spring Fling; Fair Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner; and Haines Hustle & Backcountry Games. The Fair rents facilities and provides event support to organizations and individuals for activities such as wedding receptions, nonprofit fundraisers, and regional conferences.”
Johnson said that the fair staff hopes to use the funding to improve Payson’s Pavilion stage structure, fix Raeyvn’s Cafe foundation, address community garden needs, repaint and repair Dalton City and add disability access.
“I think it supports tourism and I think it was something that was essentially promised in the budget,” assembly member Heather Lende said.
Becky’s Place asks assembly for rent
On Tuesday, Stan Mazeikas of Becky’s Place safe house for domestic violence and sexual assault victims requested $8,000 from the Haines Borough Assembly to help pay rent.
“In the past few years, the borough has been giving us $8,000 for rental of our safe house and it’s been a tremendous help in helping us stay afloat,” he said. “We work under the radar so we’re not always visible but we’re out there doing our share of helping victims here in this community.”
Lende encouraged the new assembly to direct the manager to fund Becky’s Place. “As anyone who follows the police department knows that domestic violence is an issue, and much of it is alcohol fueled,” she said. “Becky’s Place offers a place that actually saves lives and I think it’s important that the funding comes from us.”
Assembly member Sean Maidy said he feels that the assembly should treat Becky’s Place the same way it treats the state fair. “It shouldn’t be a nonprofit allocation, it should somehow be a budget item,” he said. “We support the fair because it brings us visitors, economy, diversity and fun,” Maidy said. “Becky’s Place provides us also an unbelievably essential service. When they come to us asking to help keep the lights on through rent, I really have a hard time saying no."
Morphet’s final ordinance rejected
On Tuesday, exiting assembly member Tom Morphet’s final proposed ordinance aimed at clarifying who can put an item on the assembly’s agenda was rejected 3-2 with assembly members Stephanie Scott, Brenda Josephson and Sean Maidy opposed.
Morphet said he believes the current code on assembly procedures does not make clear that assembly members can place items on the assembly’s agenda. “It’s implicit, when I think it should be explicit,” Morphet said.
Current code outlines agenda procedures as “All reports, communications, ordinances, resolutions, contract documents, or other matters to be submitted to the assembly shall be delivered to the clerk by the deadlines stipulated in the current assembly-approved agenda preparation schedule. The Mayor, with assistance from the clerk, shall arrange a list of such matters according to the order of business…”
Morphet proposed adding “Any member of the assembly, the borough manager or the Mayor may place items on the agenda.”
Assembly discussion took a turn when Scott said she couldn’t support the ordinance, because new language would ban the public from placing an item on the agenda, which is currently allowable under code. “We have never prohibited people from developing items for the agenda,” Scott said.
Lende said she supported the ordinance, since after three years on the assembly she was unaware that community members could add an item to the agenda. “It doesn’t say here (in code) that a citizen can do that. It says that the information coming in has to be in a timely manner from the channels that it’s coming in.”
Maidy said that the change would take the power away from a lot of people. “No matter how inclusive we try to be, it’s not as inclusive as the word ‘all’,” he said.
Morphet said he thinks it’s important for citizens to know what they can do in their government. “If we can make that clear to the citizens in the law, the citizens will benefit,” he said.
Scott and Maidy proposed an informational campaign to notify the public that individuals can add to the agenda as the next assembly sees fit.
Morphet and Lende will complete their three-year terms on the assembly on Oct. 22.