The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly kicked off the new year on Monday with its shortest regular meeting in at least four years, unanimously approving two routine items on its consent calendar then adjourning barely more than 23 minutes after convening.
Board Clerk Kacie Paxton verified that the meeting was shorter than all regular meetings the Assembly had in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The next-quickest regular meeting she found during that period was the Assembly's regular meeting on June 3, 2019, which lasted about 52 minutes.
With no public hearings, no new business and no unfinished business on the meeting agenda, the consent calendar contained the only two actionable items on the meeting agenda. By unanimously approving the consent calendar on Monday evening, the Assembly amended an agreement with the State of Alaska regarding traveler testing for COVID-19, and corrected the term of office of Planning Commissioner Licha Kelley-King to indicate that Kelley-King's term of office expires in 2022, not 2023.
Routine reports from the borough mayor, borough manager and the local Emergency Operations Center's incident commander occupied the bulk of the Assembly's time during Monday's meeting.
Borough Manager Ruben Duran during his report to the Assembly said he was impressed by the Assembly's flexibility with budgeting amid a pandemic, noting that between the start of the pandemic and June 30th (the end of the 2020 fiscal year) expenditures dropped "right with" revenues.
"That is a reflection of how nimble this organization, this Assembly, is in adjusting operations to base on what is happening," Duran said. "Typically, it's a very slow turn of the boat, if you will. Revenues go down and you're still expending money and you're having a little bit of trouble so you need more revenues. And it was really quite impressive."
In fact, Duran said, that flexibility paid off, and will help the borough navigate the year ahead.
"We had a slight excess of revenues over expenditures — about a half a million, and that is small — but that half a million rolls into the fund balance which is going to help us deal with this fiscal year's shortfall," Duran said. "We know there's going to be one. We projected that in the budget, but there's a little more cash from last year that's going to help soften that blow, mitigate that problem."
Borough Mayor Rodney Dial in his report to the Assembly highlighted the Finance Department's hard work and recognized the Borough Clerk's Office's hard work in the last year: "Three elections during a pandemic, EOC support, and all the other challenges of operating during one of the most difficult times in borough history. So I definitely want to pass on community appreciation and appreciation from this body for their efforts last year."
Assembly Member Jeremy Bynum said he, too, has been impressed with the Clerk's Office.
"I wanted to make a point also to say thank you to the Clerk's Office," Bynum said. "You guys did a tremendous amount of work this past year. You would think there was an office of 15, and I know it's not, but thank you very much for your guys' hard work and diligence this past year, and (I) look forward to the work ahead of us this coming year."