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1/3/2013
Council to mull rate increases

By ANDREW SHEELER

Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan City Council is expected Thursday to consider increases in both the city wastewater rate and the Ketchikan Public Utilities water rate.

The Council will hold the first readings for both rate increases at its regularly scheduled meeting. City Manager Karl Amylon has recommended a 10-percent wastewater increase and a 5-percent water rate increase. Both increases were mentioned in the city and KPU’s 2013 budgets. The wastewater increase is expected to make up for an expected $183,000 shortfall. The water rate increase, likewise, is expected to counteract a $117,000 deficit.

Both increases will be subject to two readings and votes before being enacted.

The Council also will consider retaining independent legal services in order to recoup money spent demolishing the old Bawden Street Apartments building. The building will cost an estimated $685,300 to bring down, at city expense. Council members expressed interest in taking the building’s former owner, Joseph Burns, to court over the cost. Burns previously had sold the building to a Seattle-based nonprofit that expressed an interest in renovating it.

City Attorney Mitch Seaver recused himself from the case, citing a friendship with Burns. The Council will decide whether to place Bob Blasco, of the Juneau-based law firm of Hoffman and Blasco, on retainer in the case.

Also Thursday, the Council will:

• Consider a motion authorizing a 2013 community agency funding agreement with the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau. The agreement mirrors last year’s, wherein the Council provided $342,000 to KVB for tourism and marketing services.

• Consider retaining federal lobbyist Steve Silver for another year, at a reduced rate of $27,480. The Council previously had cut Silver’s services, citing a need to cut the budget and a likely unproductive Congress.

Amylon also has requested an executive session so that the Council can discuss the performance of engineering firm Hatch and Associates on the Whitman Lake hydroelectric project. The lowest bid for Whitman Lake was more than $10 million higher than Hatch’s initial estimate. The Council also will discuss potential litigation against Hatch.

Amylon cited both attorney-client privilege and a possible "adverse impact" on city finances if the matter were discussed publicly.

The Council will meet in City Council chambers at 7 p.m. Thursday. There will be time for public comment at the start of the meeting.