Local News

Council approves July 4 events, waits for Borough decision on library

The Ketchikan City Council last night (on Thursday) approved closing a small section of Main Street at Spruce Mill Way for a downtown 4th of July timber carnival. In addition to closing the street, a noise variance will be in effect from 11:00 am to midnight. There will be live music and food booths. Organizers hope to make it an annual event.

In other 4th of July business, the Council approved a budget transfer of $3,000 to help the Ketchikan Lions Club pay for the fireworks display. The Lions Club also raises some funds through its 4th of July Queen contest.

A loss of funding for the Ketchikan Public Library was brought up during public comment. The Borough Assembly on Monday voted to cut its share of library funding next fiscal year. The Borough’s fiscal year ends June 30th leaving the City more than $200,000 short in the library budget for the six months remaining in the City’s fiscal year. Former Library Director Judith McQuerry told council members she spoke with Assembly members about her concerns.

“I have personally spoken to each and every Borough Assembly member. My understanding from a couple of them, is that it has been suggested that the city raised its sales tax in order to fund the library. Some of them, I think, were honestly confused.”

McQuerry referenced a memo by City Finance Director Bob Newell regarding asales tax increase and the Assembly’s belief it was imposed for library funding. In his memo to the Council, Newell states staff proposed using the half-cent sales tax increase for library funding but the Council did not approve that. McQuerry also told the council city residents are also borough residents.

“60 percent of the people who reside in the borough also reside in the city. It is, in my personal opinion, not equitable for the Borough Assembly to expect 60 percent of their constituents to be funding 100 percent of the public library.”

Council member Matt Olsen says he appreciates McQuerry’s comments and would quote “withhold his diatribe until later.”

Olsen asked City Clerk Kay Suiter about the deadline to submit a ballot proposition for the October election should the Assembly decide not to reverse its decision.

Olsen also requested an analysis of what a non-city borough resident would have to pay to use the library.

Mayor Lew Williams suggested waiting until after the Monday night Assembly meeting to see if direction is needed.

In other business, the council approved:

• A request by the Alaska Department of Transportation for the city to put out to bid and administer a $200,000 to $250,000 contract for interim repairs to the Water Street Trestle.

• An increase in hours for a part-time library assistant. The position will expand from 30 to 34 hours per week.

• A 7 percent increase in harbor and moorage fees.

• And voted to maintain the mill rate at 6.7 percent

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