The Ketchikan City Council has a packed agenda for Thursday’s meeting, with a hearing over First City Saloon’s package store liquor license, the issue of premium pay for employees filling in for department heads, a proposed excise tax for tobacco products, a couple of ordinances that would restrict hawking by downtown businesses; and a request for Council input on the state’s plan to discontinue detention services at the Ketchikan Regional Youth Center facility.
During its last meeting, the Council voted to move forward with a protest of First City Saloon’s liquor license renewal, which is for the bar’s package store, not the bar itself. The reason given is that First City is delinquent on its property taxes, owing about $7,000.
According to city code, before a protest is sent to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, the Council must schedule a hearing to give the business owners a chance to state their case.
Following the hearing, the Council has a few options. Members can withdraw the protest and approve the renewal outright; withdraw the protest and approve the renewal contingent upon payment of the delinquent taxes; or formally protest the renewal.
If the Council chooses option three, the ABC Board will conduct its own hearing to officially determine whether the license will be renewed.
The issue of premium pay also is a carryover from the last Council meeting. At that meeting, the Council deferred action on a request from City Manager Karl Amylon to define the circumstances when employees receive premium pay, which is 5 to 8 percent above the employee’s normal salary.
Amylon told the Council that he hadn’t been aware that the Fire Department was authorizing premium pay any time that the assistant fire chief filled in for the chief. He asked that premium pay only be applied if an employee fills in for more than two weeks, but only for those employees whose job descriptions specify that they will fill in when the department head is absent.
Amylon added that the issue seems to be limited to the Fire Department. Other city departments don’t authorize premium pay for filling in two weeks or less.
The excise tax proposal on the Council’s agenda is a preliminary step to determine the Council’s position on the topic. The issue first came before the City-Borough Joint Cooperative Relations Committee, which sent it to the City Council and Borough Assembly to see if there is interest.
The borough previously considered a tobacco excise tax, but it ultimately was not approved. The Assembly did not discuss the issue during its most recent meeting.
The change at Ketchikan’s Residential Youth Center is a recent announcement by the Division of Juvenile Justice, and is part of the state’s ongoing cost-cutting efforts.
Division officials want to focus on treatment only at the center, which was built with funding provided by the city and borough. The land on which it sits is leased from the City of Ketchikan.
Amylon writes that the lease agreement specifies that the facility be used for detention, diagnosis and treatment. He also states that local support for the facility centered on the ability to keep juveniles needing detention and treatment in their home town. The division’s proposal would mean juveniles will be sent elsewhere if they require detention.
Amylon suggests that the Council take an official position on the planned change, and seek intervention from Ketchikan’s representatives in the Legislature.
The Council has been talking about how to deal with downtown hawking for at least a year. A couple of ordinances on the agenda are an attempt to curb some downtown shop owners who try too hard to lure summertime customers into their shops.
The first ordinance prohibits downtown shops from soliciting customers anywhere outside their stores. Previously, the city allowed store owners to use the covered areas outside of their shop doors to solicit customers.
If the Council adopts the ordinance, it would establish a $200 fine for a first offense, a $300 fine for a second offense within 12 months, and a $500 fine for further offenses within 12 months.
The second proposed ordinance prohibits shops throughout the city from doing business in a way that likely would cause customers to block city sidewalks.
The Ketchikan City Council will consider all those issues and more during its upcoming meeting.
The Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.