CBJ Assembly meets

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The Assembly opted for more discussion about how many new employees to hire at Capital City Fire Rescue at the body's regular meeting.

    The Assembly decided to refer to committee a proposal to allocate $350,000 in supplemental funding for Capital City Fire Rescue.  Mayor Ken Koelsch said he intended to refer the ordinance to committee for further discussion.  There has been debate on how many employees to add to fire rescue.  "My intention is to introduce it and sent it to the committee of the whole or the finance committee for a discussion before we vote on it at the next meeting," Koelsch added.  Jones amended the motion and asked for the ordinance to be referred to the finance committee.  Koelsch said there would be more time for discussion at a finance meeting.  A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for August 8th at 7 pm.

    Mayor Koelsch also congratulated the Juneau team that won the Capital Cup tennis tournament this year against Whitehorse.

    Four residents asked the Assembly to restore certain senior citizen sales tax exemptions and defended the economic impact senior citizens have made on the economy.

    An ordinance to spend close to $4.2 million on capital improvement projects at the Juneau International Airport was introduced.  Projects include $1.97 million for the gate 2 passenger boarding bridge.

    Other ordinances introduced included a two percent increase from seven to nine percent for the hotel motel tax.  Voters must approve this proposal at the ballot box this fall.  The proposal would raise $440,000 in additional revenue.

    Another ordinance introduced provides a two percent raise for public safety employees which costs the CBJ $281,000 this year.  A second ordinance provides a two percent raise for workers in the international association of firefighters.  This will cost $204,000 this year.

    The Assembly held a public hearing and adopted an ordinance to allocate $40,000 to help fund the Juneau Douglas High School Automotive program.

    They also held a public hearing and approved the rezoning of 1.64 acres for two lots at 4535 North Douglas Highway.  It will allow the density to increase from five units to 20 units per acre.  The current property has one single family home.  It does have public water and sewer service.

    The Assembly voted 5-4 to refer to a hearing officer an appeal filed by the Juneau Seventh Day Adventist Christian School.  The issue regards the tax exemption status of the property.

    The Assembly rejected a suggestion for Port Director Carl Uchytil to negotiate with Morris Communications a proposed land deal for a portion of the Archipelago Property.  Assembly member Rob Edwardson asked whether they would be bound to a deal reached by the Docks and Harbors Department.  "If we decide not to go with what is negotiated, are we exposed (legally) at all?"

    City Manager Rorie Watt said the proposed deal would ultimately be voted upon by the Assembly.  It would also be reviewed by the CBJ Planning Commission.

    "I think the Assembly should express its comfort.  The empowered boards don't report to me.  That is your call," he added.

    The Assembly opted to have Mr. Watt negotiate the land deal.  The proposed public private development could develop the Marine Park to Taku Dock master plan that includes public uses, bus staging, parking, various vendor space and 13,000 square feet of retail space.

    Mr. Watt said staff suggested a 12 hour per day ambulance be added at Capital City Fire Rescue.  The cost for the remainder of the year is $350,000.  Since that proposal, Watt has worked with the Fire Rescue Administration to consider a 24 hour ambulance.  "The call volume has escalated considerably and the pressure on the department is not disputed."

    Watt said the Assembly does need to spend more time on the issue and the committee process was welcomed.  He said other funding will be needed.  "The $350,000 represents a complete fiscal year for a complete ambulance crews."  The other idea out there is six employees for a 24 hour ambulance that will cost another $120,000.

    "We have not acted quickly enough to the demand for service at the department," he added.  "I hear all the strong opinions out there.  I have no philosophical attachment to any particular staffing model.  The Assembly needs to hear the other demands they will have for resources."

    Watt said the right decision for the right reasons should be the goal.  "I'd like to get more resources to the fire department sooner, I don't want to delay help."

    The next discussion is planned on the August 9th agenda of the finance committee.

    In other discussions, Assembly member Jones said the Juneau Downtown Business Association plans to hire  security guards from September to December.  The cost is estimated at $4,500 per month.

    Assembly member Beth Weldon congratulated the Gastineau Channel Little League baseball Majors All-star team for winning the Alaska State championship.

    The Assembly will write a letter urging the federal government to keep a magistrate in Juneau at the US District Court.

    Assembly member Norton Gregory said cabins could be built along the Treadwell ditch trail.  Three cabins could eventually be built on the mountain. 

    Gregory added that there were concerns about the fireworks on July 4th that bothered veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. 

    Assembly member Rob Edwardson said the Lumberman issue continues to be worked on.  He praised the Docks and Harbors Board for the work they are doing on the issue.

    The Assembly also met in executive session to discuss the annual evaluation of the City Manager and City Attorney.  They also received an update on the litigation over Gastineau apartments.


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