After rejecting an amendment that would have cut borough funding to the city-owned library by a quarter-million, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly approved an agreement Monday to provide about $420,000 for library operations.
Assembly Member Agnes Moran suggested the funding reduction. She said the borough faces cuts from the state, and she would rather spend money on education than the library. She referenced the Ketchikan City Council’s recent discussion about distancing the city from a lawsuit the borough plans to file against the state over school funding.
“The attitude of the city has been that this is not their issue,” she said. “Based on the conversation that I’ve heard at the table, that they don’t consider the education funding that we’re supporting, and they’ve kind of left us high and dry on this. I’ve got to come up with $250,000 next year, and education funding for me is a higher priority than operational funding for the city library.”
Moran and Mike Painter, who seconded her amendment, were the only yes votes. Those two Assembly members also joined to vote against the main motion, which passed 5-2.
The approved funding agreement is essentially the same as last year’s, but it includes a new stipulation that the city will make a “good-faith attempt” to gather data on who uses the library.
The borough had held off on approving the agreement because officials wanted more details about how many non-city residents used the library, and how often.
Assembly Member Alan Bailey said he would like to work with city officials to determine how to gather the information. He said he wished the two governments had worked together from the start.
“I would have liked to have – and I hope we will probably get that opportunity through the cooperative relations committee – to work together and try to find a good solution so that it doesn’t impose greatly on the library personnel people, who are doing a very fine job, and yet we do require and need some reliable information,” he said.
Also Monday, the Assembly introduced an ordinance to fund the borough’s efforts to sue the state over education funding. The ordinance calls for $150,000 for that effort, and it passed 4-3 with no discussion. Bailey and Assembly Members Jim Van Horne and Bill Rotecki voted no.
The ordinance will come back to the Assembly for a public hearing and final vote on Nov. 4.
The Assembly later agreed to make public two documents that were confidential under attorney-client privilege. One is a portion of a report written on the topic by Robert Hicks, an independent attorney hired by the borough to research the issue. The second is a memo drafted by borough attorney Scott Brandt-Erichsen.