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11/19/2012
Boro to look at grant

By NICK BOWMAN

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly will consider a $2.5 million grant application from the City of Ketchikan for the Whitman Lake hydroelectric project at its regular meeting on Monday.

Assembly members will hold a work session to discuss the grant, which would be funded from the $8.7 million economic development fund. Members have the opportunity to make motions concerning the grant after the session.

The possibility of a borough grant comes after City Manager Karl Amylon suggested the city abandon the Whitman Lake project because of unexpectedly high construction and equipment costs.

Hatch Associates originally estimated the cost of the project to be $14.3 million, but once Whitman Lake went out to bid, the lowest offer received was $25.7 million.

Hatch and Dawson Construction Co., the low bidder, were able to cut the project cost to $17 million, but that also meant cutting 22 percent of the annual energy generation of the dam.

The City Council voted to continue with the project.

Also on Monday, the fiscal year 2014 capital project priority list comes before the Assembly.

It retains the highest-to-lowest priority structure of the original list prepared for the governor’s office. After wrangling over project placement on the list, the Lobbying Executive Committee met and agreed on a non-prioritized list.

The City of Ketchikan claimed the top two spots, with the Ketchikan Medical Center addition and alterations at No. 1 and off-system city bridges rehabilitation and replacement at No. 2.

The City of Saxman’s Mahoney Lake hydroelectric project is No. 3. Saxman’s Community Center parking is No. 6 on the list.

The borough’s Ketchikan Performing Arts Center is No. 4 and its service area road construction and repair is No. 5.

The service areas included on the project are Homestead, Mud Bight, Forest Park, Gold Nugget, Waterfall and Nichols View.

Of mutual benefit to Saxman, the city and the borough are improvements to the Ketchikan Shipyard, which is No. 7 on the list.

The list, which will be prepared for the Legislature, was approved by the City Council at its Thursday meeting.

A public hearing is set for Monday concerning fiscal year 2013 amendments to the borough budget.

The borough might appropriate $347,383 for transit and $1.2 million for the Ketchikan International Airport.

All but $10,000, which would come from the borough treasury, of the transit appropriations come from state or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants.

The $10,000 would be used to fund benefits for a part-time Airport Ferry deckhand.

The $1.2 million appropriation would be used to pay off the airport’s operating fund deficit.

Ketchikan voters approved a $5.5 million Ketchikan School District bond proposition during local elections, but the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank Authority, to which the borough wishes to sell the bonds, will no longer make loans to or buy bonds from a municipality that is in default on bond agreements.

One such bond agreement is the borough’s Airport Revenue Bonds that require the airport operating fund to at least break even, which hasn’t happened for decades.

The $1.2 million would come from a $2.5 million state grant awarded to the borough to pay past operating losses of the airport enterprise fund.

Also on Monday, the borough will consider extending the grant agreement with the Ketchikan Maritime Industry Council to Dec. 31, 2013.

In 2011, the borough granted the council $116,000 in economic development funds. The organization’s website, asset mapping and branding was to be completed with $66,000 and $50,000 was set aside as seed funding to use to procure possible state and federal grants.

The scope of the agreement was broadened after passage, but the Assembly will decide whether to return the agreement to its original scope.

Two resolutions supporting the Alaska Timber Job Task Force and the Big Thorne Timber Sale are up for consideration on Monday.

Also on Monday, the Assembly will consider repealing the Planning Liaison and Economic Development Advisory Committee. At a previous meeting, Assembly members said they the committee was no longer effective.

The Assembly will also consider amending the makeup of the Lobbying Executive Committee include the mayors and one representatives from each governing body.

There will be time for public comment near the beginning of the meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Assembly chambers.