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By SCOTT BOWLEN
Daily News Staff Writer
City of Ketchikan voters in October will decide whether to prohibit the consumption of marijuana products at any marijuana establishment within city limits.
The Ketchikan City Council voted Thursday to place the cannabis question on the Oct. 1 regular election ballot.
Council members voted twice on the issue Thursday.
The first vote was a 5-2 decision to approve Ordinance 1896, which would prohibit the marijuana consumption at any marijuana establishment, subject to voter approval.
Assembly members Dick Coose and Sam Bergeron voted against the ordinance, which describes consumption as including “smoking, vaping, ingesting or any other means.”
Placing the question on the Oct. 1 regular election ballot required a separate action by the council, which voted 6-1 to approve the ballot resolution. Coose cast the no vote.
There was no council discussion of the onsite marijuana consumption issue before either vote.
In March, the State of Alaska finalized regulations that would allow for use of cannabis products at retail marijuana shops.
The regulations, which went into effect in April, require retailers that want to provide for marijuana consumption at their sites to apply for a state endorsement and abide by specific rules. The state regulations also allow local governments to prohibit onsite consumption.
Thursday’s meeting had a wide variety of topics, including a proposed property tax mill rate increase that was not approved by the City Council. As reported in the Friday, June 7, edition of the Ketchikan Daily News, the council voted 4-3 to maintain the property tax mill rate at 6.6 mills.
The proposed mill rate increase was on Thursday’s agenda in relation to a city and Ketchikan Public Utilities employee compensation study being completed by Ralph Anderson & Company. In December, while developing its current year budget, the City Council anticipated that the compensation study and resulting compensation plan would increase employee costs for the city, which would be covered by an increase to the mill rate.
City staff estimate that the new compensation plan would result in approximately $1.86 million in additional annual employee costs. The prevailing view in Thursday’s 4-3 vote was that the city currently has adequate reserves and other potential additional revenue sources to cover cost increases this year. Council members Coose, Bergeron, Lew Williams III and Mark Flora voted to keep the mill rate at the current level. Council members Dave Kiffer, Janalee Gage and Judy Zenge voted no.
Also Thursday, the council directed City Manager Karl Amylon to schedule a special meeting of the council for a presentation by Ralph Anderson & Associates regarding the firms update of the city and KPU employee compensation plan.
Depending on availability of the firm’s representation, the meeting will be scheduled at some point from June 25 to June 27.
Old fire station
As part of its unanimous vote to approve its consent agenda Thursday, the City Council approved the ordinance that declares the old Ketchikan Fire Department station at 319 Main St. as surplus, and authorizes its sale at auction.
The two-story structure, which had been used as a fire station from the time of its construction in 1942 through 2011, has been appraised at $330,000.
The auction will have a minimum bid of $335,750, an amount that includes the appraisal cost of $5,750.
The council did not place any special conditions about how the property could be used after the sale.
However, Ordinance 1894 provides a period of one month for the filing of “referendum petitions,” which would place the ordinance on a ballot to be decided by city voters.
If no successful referendum petition is filed within the one-month period, the ordinance becomes effective, according to city information.
Also Thursday, the Ketchikan City Council:
• Approved a grant agreement with the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development for up to $95,880 for the design of renovations to the former Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility at 623 Gateway Court. Renovation of the city-owned facility will allow its use by Women In Safe Homes as a shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, according to agenda materials.
• Scheduled the council’s first regular meeting of July for July 8. The council’s regular meetings typically are scheduled on the first and third Thursdays of the month. The first Thursday this upcoming July is July 4.
• Directed city staff to have crossing guards present at the intersection of Water Street and Schoenbar Road near Berth 4 as a trial to see whether it enhances pedestrian safety. There was substantial discussion between council members and city staff about pedestrian safety in that area, and the other areas downtown, such as the intersections of Mission and Main streets, and Stedman, Mill and Dock streets.
• Heard Mayor Bob Sivertsen read a proclamation honoring Debra Cowan for 40 years of service with Ketchikan Public Utilities.
After accepting the proclamation, Cowan commented on the many ways that KPU had changed since she began working there, including that there were no computers at KPU when she started.
But there were rotary telephones and five-party lines — and employees could smoke at their desks, she said.
Cowan expressed sincere appreciation and gratitude from herself and her family for the opportunity to work with KPU.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing,” Cowan said.