The topic of service areas within the Ketchikan Gateway Borough garnered some attention during Monday’s meeting of the Borough Assembly.

Although Monday’s agenda item was specific to just one of the 13 service areas within the borough — the Mud Bight Service Area — the circumstance highlights the role that service areas have for the residents who reside within their boundaries.

A service area provides a mechanism to determine and provide levels of services that residents would like.

For example, borough code describes the Mud Bight Service Area as having “all of the powers necessary or incidental to the providing of the following services within said service area,” which include the construction, maintenance and operation of roads, and a water treatment and distribution system.

The Forest Park Service Area has the powers for providing the construction, maintenance, and operation of roads, including street lighting.

In most cases, except for service areas such Long Arm, Deep Bay and Vallenar Bay where the borough “shall have and may exercise all power necessary or incidental to providing” the prescribed services, the service areas have boards of directors appointed by the Assembly.

According to borough information, these boards make recommendations on levels of service of interest to the service area, and advise the borough manager regarding the execution of the work program and budgets for that service area.

On Monday, the Assembly was considering a proposal from the Mud Bight board about a mechanism for funding services within the service area. At the meeting, several residents of the area expressed concern about the proposal, and there was a resident request that the Assembly postpone action and send the proposal back to the board for further work. The Assembly wisely chose to do just that.

A quick word here that we appreciate the people who serve on the service area boards. It’s usually a low-profile gig that helps make sure the roads and whatever other services provided are in working order. But such services can be expensive, and deciding how the service area will pay for them can result in differences of opinion.

Service area residents are well advised to be cognizant of the board — when it meets and what’s on the agenda. Make a note to attend a meeting if possible and provide input on the topics of the day. It’s also great to have more people willing to serve on a board, to ease the burden on the few people who often end up serving because few others step up.

According to the borough website, several service area boards have vacancies. These include the service areas of Forest Park (four vacancies), Gold Nugget (three), Homestead (one), Loring (three), Mud Bight (two),  North Tongass Fire & EMS (two), South Tongass (two) and Waterfall Creek (two).

These entities perform a vital role in providing services. If you’re a resident of one of these service areas and interested in helping out, the borough clerk’s office is accepting applications for appointment.