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4/1/2013
Boro mulls amendment: $6.8M for school construction fund

By NICK BOWMAN

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan Gateway?Borough Assembly will consider introducing a last budget amendment before work begins on capital improvements to local schools during its regular Monday meeting.

Ordinance 1663 would appropriate $6.8 million to the School Facilities Upgrades Construction Fund.

The bond approved by voters in the 2012 local election provided $5.5 million, and the additional $1.3 million comes from the School Bond Capital Improvement Fund.

Schools Superintendent Robert Boyle said at the Ketchikan School Board’s Wednesday meeting that the district — with approval from the board — would prioritize improvements that save money, most focusing on energy efficiency.

If introduced on Monday, a public hearing for Ordinance 1663 will be set for April 15.

Two items on Monday relate to paving Cascade Road in the Waterfall Service Area.

Resolution 2460 would authorize a $75,000 loan to the service area to fund the project. Assembly members will then consider awarding a sole-source contract to Secon Inc. for $74,600 for the road project.

The Alaska Department of Transportation has contracted Secon to pave the North Tongass Highway from Waterfall Bridge near Cascade Road to Settlers Cove, according to the borough. The borough’s contract is scheduled so that Cascade Road can be paved at the same time.

Five public hearings are set for Monday:

• Ordinance 1654 would increase Waterfall Service Area Fees to $206.25 per lot. Fees were last increased in October, but the Cascade Road project warranted a second increase.

The Assembly considered the increase on March 21, but action was delayed because the service area board was concerned revenue would drop because of residents combining lots with neighbors.

•Ordinance 1655 would appropriate the $75,000 used to fund the Cascade Road project.

• Ordinance 1659 authorizes the sale of four lots deeded to the borough for failure to pay taxes.

Before the borough can sell foreclosed property, the Assembly must declare that no public purpose exists for the lots at 2741 Eagle Ave., 5943 Roosevelt Drive, 6460 Roosevelt Drive and an interior lot on Pennock Island.

All lots are valued at less than $75,000. The lot on Pennock, the cheapest, is valued at $3,900.

• Borough staff recommended that Ordinance 1660 — a rezone on Power House Road — not be introduced at Monday’s meeting, effectively denying the rezone.

Power House Road is the first left after the bridge at Herring Cove when driving south on South Tongass Highway. A property owner requested a rezone to General Commercial from Low Density Residential to suit his plans for the property.

The owner, Nils?Utterback, wanted to develop the area to cater to tourists with bus and van parking, a vehicle turnaround and restrooms, according to borough documents.

Public comment to the Planning Commission suggested that the rezone would have a negative impact on the neighborhood, with increased foot traffic scaring bears, trespassing, and garbage possibly left on private property nearby.

As a result of the public comment and potentially increased vehicle traffic in the area, the commission concluded the rezone would not be a "benefit to the public."

•Ordinance 1661 would rezone 1.5 acres of propoerty at 8219 S. Tongass Hwy. to General Commercial with special limitations.

A?property owners, Michael and Paula Jurczak, at Herring Cove requested the change, according to the borough, because the large number of tourists who visit the area have a significant effect on the neighborhood, and consequently want to "mitigate the impacts by having the opportunity to try and profit from them."

The rezone would allow for a 300-square-feet retail stand would have five special limitations, including a maximum of three employees working at a time, limits of hours of operation and height and setback restrictions.

A setback is the distance a structure is required to be recessed into a property away from a road.

Borough planning staff concluded that the rezone would not "significantly add to the negative impacts being experienced by area residents."

Also on Monday, the Assembly will consider Resolution 2473, which urges the Alaska House and Senate education committees to hold hearings on the full state funding of basic need for school districts.

Assembly members and Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst have been pushing state lawmakers to introduce legislation that would remove the local funding requirement for school districts.

The borough is required by the state to contribute between $4.2 million and $9.7 million annually to the school district.

Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, who represents Ketchikan, told Assembly Member Agnes Moran and Bockhorst that there was "no support for the borough’s proposal among House leadership," according to Bockhorst’s report to the Assembly.

The Assembly also will consider awarding a $71,100 contract to SEA?Island Construction for improvements to the White Cliff Building.

Contractors would make improvements to the Legislative Information Offices, specifically in the office intended for the local office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

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