The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly sped through its regular meeting on Monday evening in just over one hour, unanimously adopting two ordinances to accept water loans in public hearing and approving all 16 items on its consent calendar. With those items approved, Borough Finance Director Cynna Gubatayao is set to be the next assistant borough manager.
All seven Assembly members were present for Monday’s meeting in person.
No citizens provided public comment at the start of the meeting, so the Assembly dove into the two water loan public hearings.
The first ordinance for public hearing allowed the borough to accept loans from the Alaska Drinking Water Fund to help begin to finance the installation of a water storage tank in the Ravenwood neighborhood and to fund a master plan for the South Tongass Water System. The second ordinance authorized the borough to accept a loan from the Alaska Clean Water Fund to complete an inflow and infiltration study of the Mountain Point Wastewater Treatment System.
Borough Public Works Director Morgan Barry explained to the Assembly that the Ravenwood water storage project had been in the works for 10 years. Though acceptance of the $1.6 million loan for that project wouldn’t finance the entire project, it would help secure additional funding from other sources to cover all of the project costs.
The Assembly unanimously adopted both ordinances.
Borough Mayor Rodney Dial complimented Barry and Public Works Department staff for their dedication to the long-term projects.
“In conversations with staff, it really brought to light how much time you’ve invested in the actual three resolutions that the Assembly has before us tonight. This has been going on for years,” said Dial. “I often fail to recognize how much work you put into these things, but there’s one on the consent calendar, Ordinance 1963, that represents the efforts of the borough, and specifically, you, Mr. Barry, constantly looking for opportunities to expand and upgrade that water system. And, I’m also impressed with how you’ve worked with Saxman on some of the issues that they have, as well. So, I just wanted to make sure you get a little recognition for this because this has been going on for a long time, and you have just been really determined to move this forward.”
After adopting both public hearing ordinances, the Assembly removed three items from the consent calendar, regarding an agreement for a proposed art installation along the Schoenbar Trail; a motion to approve the continued employment of Carlene Dixon, who is the daughter of Borough Finance Director Cynna Gubatayao; and a $62,060 contract to SBJ International LLC for “transportation technology consultation services.”
Assembly Member Grant EchoHawk removed the Schoenbar Trail installation agreement from the agenda to disclose a possible conflict of interest on the action. He is a member of the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which is “spearheading” work on the art installation.
After hearing EchoHawk’s response to a routine conflict of interest question, Dial ruled that EchoHawk did not have a conflict of interest.
The agreement passed unanimously.
Vice Mayor AJ Pierce removed the transportation technology action from the consent calendar to ask Borough Transit Director Kyan Reeve to explain what a position for “transportation technology consultation services” would entail.
Reeve explained that the borough already has implemented several technologies on its buses, such as digital bus passes that can be carried on a smartphone. As the transit department continues to find ways to serve the community, SBJ “would … help us sort out which technologies make the most sense for us right now — we’ve already identified a bunch of them through the RFP — but further, they would help us implement those, make sure that the vendors that we end up working with carry it out.”
He added that the group also would help educate borough staff and customers about how to use the new technology.
“To actually figure out ourselves, but then to instruct all of our drivers how to do it, and then all of our customers how to do it, it can be just a huge amount of time, so part of this project also would be to help develop the necessary training materials, helping our drivers understand them, our mechanics understand them, us understand them,” Reeve explained.
Pierce also removed the item of continued employment from the consent calendar to ask the borough manager to clarify a leadership chart attached to that item. After some discussion, that motion passed unanimously.
Among the remaining 13 actions on the consent calendar, the Assembly approved the reappointment of Assembly Member AJ Pierce as Vice Mayor. Dial said that he was glad to continue his work with her.
“I just, I really respect you, Miss Pierce. I think you do a great job for this community,” said Dial. “I remember that time we went to a conference, and the speaker said, ‘You know, if two people agree on everything all the time, one of them’s not needed.’ I think we complement each other pretty well, so thank you for (agreeing to serve again).”
Just before the meeting adjourned, Pierce shared kind words and a conference anecdote about Gubatayao.
“It’s going to be very exciting to see you in this role,” said Pierce. “Spending time with you at Southeast Conference was a fortifier, to me, that you’re the right person for the position. Not having the manager or the mayor (at) those particular events was different. And, having you there, … we had sidebar conversations about so many things that (Assembly Member) Austin (Otos) and I did, (we) came to you with questions and … to be able to have you there as a resource was a really great experience for me, to know how you’re going to fill out that role as an asssistant manager. So, I’m excited for this body, I’m excited for you, so, just, thank you, again, for being willing to step in the gap for that.”