The intention of the community’s legislative priorities list is to show a solid front to the governor and to the Legislature when local officials go to Juneau lobbying for funds.
The process seemed to be going well this year, with the Borough Assembly, the City of Ketchikan and the City of Saxman choosing their top priorities and submitting them to the Lobbying Executive Committee for that group to debate and prioritize. The committee members are representatives from each body. They decided to pick the top project from each group and place those in the first three spots for the whole community, then take the number-two projects for fourth-through-sixth place.
The city got the number-one position with its $20 million funding request for hospital improvements, clearly beneficial to everyone on the island if not the region; Saxman’s $1 million request to help plan the Mahoney Lake hydroelectric project was placed second; and the borough’s $1.8 million request to help renovate a historic downtown building into a performing arts center came in third.
The borough and Saxman seemed satisfied, and their elected officials ratified the list. But after a strong critique from City Manager Karl Amylon, who did not attend the committee’s organizational meeting, the Council rejected the list and sent it back for reconsideration.
That happened on Sept. 6th. Committee chairman and Borough Mayor Dave Kiffer declined to reconvene the committee, and this week the Assembly voted unanimously to maintain the list and send it back to the Council.
The argument is over the order of the projects. The city wants its fourth-place $13 million request for city bridges pushed up into second place, followed by $11 million for Ketchikan Shipyard improvements.
The City Council meets Thursday, Sept. 20, in regular session, and again will consider the priorities list.
The agenda, which was completed before Monday’s Borough Assembly vote, does not include any recommendations for the Council. Amylon simply asks for direction.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.