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EDITOR, Daily News:
In reference to the Ketchikan Daily News article written by Sam Allen, who covered the Ketchikan City Council meeting on Jan. 4, the agenda was set for final discussion and motion to allow the city manager, Karl Amylon, to continue negotiations with the consulting firm ECG to negotiate a new lease with PeaceHealth concerning the city-owned Ketchikan Medical Center.
The article references statements made by council members Judy Zenge, Julie Isom and Dave Kiffer, and Mayor Bob Siversten, that their inclination was to vote no due to conflict of interest and too many red flags, however they didn’t get into any specifics for the record.
Amylon replied, “this has been a 12-month process and an expense of $200,000 for ECG consulting fees.” My questions being: why isn’t the city’s legal department drawing up the lease agreement and why does this property owner/tenant relationship need a consulting firm expertise at taxpayers expense? The rent the city is asking from its tenant is nominal (one dollar); why should it cost taxpayers $200,000 plus city expense of payroll and processing the paperwork to get one dollar from one of the largest employers in Ketchikan? I trust PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center is paying its fair share in KPU utilities, waste management disposal, taxes, property, sales, employment and not receiving any concessions by the city for being a nonprofit organization.
PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center is a convenient option for Southeast Alaska residents. However many decide to travel to Juneau, Seattle or Bellingham, Washington, for their primary health issues — at their own expense. This $200,000 expenditure from the General Budget does not serve the constituents of Ketchikan and in my opinion, our council members should vote “NO” on the motion. If Mr. Amylon feels “‘it would lose about 12 months if it dropped ECG and negotiated with another firm,” then we must re-think the city manager’s real intent when hiring a consulting firm who promotes ECG partners with providers to create the strategies and solutions that are transforming healthcare delivery on their website. As property owners, the city oversees many tenant lease agreements routinely overseen by the legal department, how is this one any different?
The question is, why is the landlord using taxpayers’ money to tell a tenant how to run their business?
The Jan. 17 council meeting at 7 p.m. will have this on the agenda. The public is invited to attend.
MARY L. STEPHENSON