Local News

Borough Assembly nixes appropriations ordinance

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly turned down more than $150,000 in federal grants on Monday when it rejected an ordinance that would have allowed various budget appropriations.

The motion failed in a 3-2 vote, with Assembly Members Agnes Moran and Glen Thompson voting no. A motion requires at least four yes votes to pass.

Assembly Members Todd Phillips and Jim Van Horn were absent.

After the motion failed, Moran proposed amending the motion by removing the federal funds.

“That’s the only part of this I object to. I’m fine with the other things passing, but I object to accepting the federal grant monies,” she said. “So if we take that out, I’d be willing to reintroduce the other three items.”

Borough Clerk Kacie Paxton reminded the Assembly that the motion already had failed, and could not be amended unless the Assembly agreed to reconsider that vote.

The only members who could ask for reconsideration were those on the prevailing side. Moran and Thompson both declined to request reconsideration.

The federal grant funds in question were intended for the borough’s transit department. Most did not require a local match. Some of the items on the list were additional bus shelters, a restroom at Thomas Basin, a replacement support vehicle and a bus tracking system.

Later in the meeting, Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst told the Assembly that he would take another look at the items in the ordinance.

“I think that there are arguments that I will bring back to the Assembly for consideration,” he said. “I think there will be some modifications to that proposal somewhat. It is reasonable to offer the Assembly an additional opportunity to consider the proposed expenditures.”

During Assembly member comments, Mike Painter expressed dismay that the motion failed. He said that if two members hadn’t been absent, there likely would have been a different outcome.

“Item 4A was a prime example of not running on all cylinders,” he said. “Even though previously, a meeting before last, we narrowly did approve acceptance of the federal grant, (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds, the fact of the matter, it went down the drain with the bathwater tonight. Hopefully the manager will get the plumber to dig it out of the trap and put it back on the table next meeting, because some of these items are of concern.”

For example, Painter notes that one of the rejected appropriations was $10,000 to help pay for a permanent part-time airport ferry deckhand.

Thompson responded that he’s asked borough management for many years to separate supplemental appropriations so the Assembly can consider them individually.

Also Monday, the Assembly unanimously approved the newest version of the community project funding request list. The contentious list has gone back and forth between the city, borough and Saxman governments for more than a month.

The newest version officially has been approved by all three. However, City Council Member Sam Bergeron asked for reconsideration. The Council will take up the issue again on Thursday.

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