The Ketchikan City Council Thursday night opted to postpone several decisions to allow new city council members to get familiar with issues.
Councilmember Bob Sivertsen was reelected to his seat last week. He is joined by political newcomer Janalee Gage and former Thorne Bay mayor Julie Isom.
The council was scheduled to approve a bargaining agreement between the City of Ketchikan and the Ketchikan Professional Firefighters Association. Council member Dick Coose requested to postpone the agreement.
“We have two brand new members sitting here. There would only be four of us, and half of them could go into a meeting to talk about it. I think we need more of a full council sitting here to deal with this issue.”
Under the agreement, the Firefighters association would receive a 1.6 percent pay raise this year, and 2 percent raises each subsequent year through 2017. There would also be a reduction in the employee share of health insurance premium costs. The agreement would be retroactive to the start of this year.
Councilmembers Gage, Isom, Coose, and Judy Zenge, along with City Mayor Lew Williams were present Thursday night. Councilmembers Dave Kiffer and Bob Sivertsen participated by phone.
Coose also requested to postpone three executive sessions that were scheduled for Thursday night. One related to the agreement between the City and the Professional Firefighters Association and the others involved the annual evaluations of the City Manager and City Clerk. Mayor Williams says these executive sessions, along with three others, will be brought up at the next City Council meeting scheduled for the first week in November.
Also last night, the council agreed to a budget transfer approximately $85,000 to pay for an unanticipated universal service charge between Ketchikan Public Utilities and the Federal Government. City Manager Karl Amylon says costs will ultimately be passed along to KPU customers. Ed Cushing, Division Manager of KPU Telecommunications, told the council a complex agreement with the Federal Government was reached.
“This year, they initially decided to put KPU in a new rate band which would have cost us $300,000. We ultimately, through a series of meetings and negotiations, were able to convince them to put us into a different rate band. The net of that activity increased our costs by $85,000. The overall net of our ongoing separations process still keeps us in that $4 million positive range.”
The Council unanimously approved the budget transfer.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Ketchikan City Council is November 5th.