A change in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s animal protection code that will make it easier to respond to noise complaints moved forward on Monday.
The borough assembly voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance that changes the definition of excessive noise, as related to animals. It states that excessive noise is unreasonably annoying, disturbing and offensive; and/ or interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.
The language it would replace states that the noise must continue for at least 10 minutes. Borough Animal Protection Director Eddie Blackwood said because of that language, the borough has never successfully prosecuted a noise complaint.
“We’ve had cases in the past where we’ve had people do recordings, they’ve made statements, gone to court and testified, and to this point, based on the code the way it’s written currently, the courts have ruled in favor of the animal owner,” he said.
During public comment, a couple of people complained about roosters crowing in their neighborhoods, and said they hoped the code change could provide relief from that noise.
Blackwood said his officers respond to rooster complaints the same as any animal noise complaint, and the borough attorney would determine whether to take it to court.
Borough Attorney Glenn Brown said the new language is based on what’s reasonable.
“And it puts it to the judge to say, ‘Using a reasonable ordinary person’s standard, would a rooster crowing for half an hour at 3 in the morning in a residential area night after night after night, strike you as unreasonable?’” he said.
The ordinance has not yet been adopted. It still needs to come back to the assembly for a public hearing and second vote.
Also Monday, the assembly heard from Ketchikan Schools Superintendent Robert Boyle. He said the recently adopted three-year contract for teachers means the school district will need more funding from the borough.
“The request that the school district will make to the borough to work forward in this contract is an additional $1,140,395 in support from the education funds that the borough holds,” he said.
That and some funds already in the district’s budget would cover the additional costs for the first two years of the contract – FY 2018 and 2019.
He said adding in additional costs for Fiscal Year 2020, the overall new costs to the district is about $4.4 million.
Boyle said those cost estimates include expected upcoming salary and health insurance adjustments for other employees in the district, such as paraprofessionals.