The Ketchikan City Council in its regular meeting Thursday is set to consider a wide range of motions and topics, including transferring funds to support the Port of Ketchikan; information about hiring a recruitment service to assist in selecting a new City of Ketchikan/Ketchikan Public Utilities manager; and the 2020 audit of the city’s finances, which were declared “clean.”
The council will consider approving a motion to amend the 2021 general government budget to provide $4.7 million to the Port Department. The motion also includes an appropriation of $180,000 to the city’s Public Health Department.
The transfer to the department's Hospital Construction fund is intended to support the PeaceHeath Ketchikan Medical Center roof replacement project.
The $4.7 million to the Port Department fund is to bolster reserves that have been depleted by the complete absence of cruise ship visits to the port in 2020 and the drastic reduction of visits in 2021.
The revenue targeted for transfer is intended to be sourced from a May 2021 donation of $2 million from Norwegian Cruise Lines, and $2.7 million received in August from the federal American Recovery Plan Act program via the Alaska Commercial Passenger Vessel excise tax fund.
Ketchikan was one of six Southeast Alaska ports that received a portion of a $10 million donation from NCL, according to a memo attached to Thursday’s meeting agenda written by City Finance Director Michelle Johansen.
“As we near the end of a second cruise season with little relief for revenue replacement and a Port Fund that has depleted its reserves, serious consideration should be given to utilizing the $2,000,000 to pay debt service costs in the amount of $1,654,875 and other operating costs of the Port Fund,” Johansen wrote.
She added that “the expected 2021 revenues of the port fund are approximately $1.35 million compared to the expected costs of $6.5 to $6.9 million.”
Johansen also noted that the next cruise ship expected to visit the Port of Ketchikan is scheduled to arrive on April 29, and that the funds targeted to fill the port fund gap will be “sufficient to carry us through the first five months of 2022.”
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the council is set to consider approving a draft Request For Proposals to hire a recruitment service firm to help in the search for a city/KPU manager following Karl Amylon’s retirement from that position on Aug. 31.
Acting Ketchikan City Manager Lacey Simpson wrote in a memo that “most recruitment firms charge on average 25% of the hired candidate’s annual salary,” which would mean that engaging such a firm is expected to exceed $50,000. An RFP, Simpson noted, would be necessary to comply with Ketchikan municipal code.
A related agenda item scheduled for consideration by the council is an analysis of separating the city manager and KPU manager positions. Two memos detailing the consequences of splitting the position, written by Simpson and Johansen, are included in the agenda.
The positions were consolidated in 1999 during Amylon’s tenure, Simpson wrote.
Both memos list multiple extra costs, negative effects to personnel and hampered efficiency as the potential results of splitting the position. Johansen’s memo estimates that the current cost of employing one dual-purpose manager with support staff and resources is $742,249 annually. She stated that splitting the position would cost an estimated $1,471,008 annually.
“The financial impact to general fund would require a property tax or sales tax increase,” Johansen wrote.
In addition to the increased expense to the city, Simpson wrote that the consolidation of the managerial roles “has resulted in operational efficiencies, cost reductions, increased employee morale, and enhanced service delivery.”
The council also in Thursday’s meeting is set to consider approving a motion to accept the 2020 annual comprehensive financial report of the City of Ketchikan and the supplementary compliance report section.
Kelly Priestly, audit partner of Teuscher Walpole, LLC is scheduled to present the results of the audit to the council at Thursday’s meeting, according to a memo written by Simpson.
A copy of the report and the auditor’s communication with those charged with governance is attached to the agenda.
Johansen wrote in a memo, “I am pleased to inform you that the auditor issued an unmodified or ‘clean’ opinion on the city’s financial statements.”
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the council is set to consider:
● Approval of a $13,333 budget transfer between the Harbor Division's accounts to fund the costs associated with raising and disposing of a sunken fishing vessel that was tied to city-owned infrastructure.
● Information from Acting Ketchikan Police Chief Eric Mattson regarding complaints about people who have been committing crimes and disturbances in the parking lot located at Edmonds and Grant streets.
● Approval of an agreement for emergency dispatch services between the City of Ketchikan and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough effective Jan. 1. The agreement unanimously was approved by the Borough Assembly in its meeting of Oct. 19, according to Simpson.
The City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, at the Council Chambers, located in City Hall at 334 Front St. There is time allotted at the start of the meeting for public comment.
The meeting can be viewed live via the KPU cable television service, on the City of Ketchikan YouTube channel, on the City of Ketchikan’s Facebook page and also on the City of Ketchikan website at http://www.ktn-ak.us/current-agendas-and-minutes.