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By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer
Every spring, representatives of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly — as well as the borough mayor and manager — take a trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate federal policy issues relating to Ketchikan.
During its meeting Monday, the Assembly will be discussing those issues, and will vote on approving a list of issue statements for the delegation’s trip to the nation’s capital.
According to the agenda for Monday’s meeting, the 2018 fly-in to Washington is scheduled for the week of April 9, with Borough Mayor David Landis, Borough Manager Ruben Duran and Assembly Member Rodney Dial composing the delegation.
The three are scheduled to meet with Alaska’s congressional delegation — Rep. Don Young, Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski. In addition, the delegation will meet with some federal entities, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Some of the matters slated to be discussed are hot-button issues for the Ketchikan area, including the National Flood Insurance Program.
According to the issue statement in the agenda, the Ketchikan delegation will be talking with FEMA and requesting that it “extends the comment/appeal period for the (borough) Risk MAP process to one year.”
In addition, the issue statement goes on to advocate for FEMA to “ground truth the coastal mapping data specifically for the structures now shown as being in the flood plain.”
One of the issue statements regarding the Tongass National Forest includes a call for congressional action to exempt the Tongass from the 2001 Roadless Rule. Repealing the Roadless Rule would allow expanded access to the resources found in the forest.
“The borough also supports revising the Tongass Land Management Plan 2016 Amendment,” the issue statement reads, “to ensure that any transition to a timber-sale program based primarily on young growth management be accomplished in a timeframe and in a manner that maintains an economically viable timber manufacturing industry in Southeast Alaska.”
The delegation will also be discussing the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Act. The borough urges that the program, which expired in October of 2015, be reauthorized and receive full funding.
“Without the Secure Rural School(s) Program, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough has seen its funding drop from $993,000 in Federal Fiscal Year 2015 to $85,000 in Federal Fiscal Year 2016,” the issue statement reads.
According to borough documents, 100 percent of funding from the SRS went directly to the Ketchikan Gateway School District.
“The precipitous decline in funding has a direct impact on Ketchikan’s education system,” the statement goes on to read.
Other federal policy positions that will be subject to Assembly approval at Monday’s meeting include: The Endangered Species Act, U.S. Coast Guard contracting, the Cadillac Tax, Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program, sea otter management, Alaska Mental Health Trust land exchange, homeporting the NOAA ship Fairweather in Ketchikan, and more.
Full copies of the federal policy issue statements, or “white papers,” can be found on the borough’s website.
Also Monday, the borough will vote on introducing an ordinance that would amend the FY 2018 borough budget by adding a supplemental appropriation of about $100,000 from the general fund for costs associated with retirements and resignations.
This reason for the proposed appropriation is largely because of the sizable “Personal Time Off” balances the departing employees had accrued.
“Typically, this practice does not cause budget issues, however, the total combined PTO payout due to the six departing employees is $104,053, or 2.3 percent of general fund wages,” the agenda item reads.
During Monday’s meeting, the Assembly is also expected to:
• Hear a proclamation read by Landis honoring Ketchikan High School’s Academic Decathlon team, which recently won the state championship.
• Re-appoint Dennis McCarty and Dalton Fox as regular members to the Board of Ethics.
• Hear reports from both the borough mayor and borough manager.
• Listen to an update from a representative from the School Board.
Monday’s meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly chambers, 1900 First Ave. There will be time for public comment at the beginning of the meeting.