January 19, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 3

City council revises current year budget

Allows one-time grant from PMP&L for pool cover purchase

On Tuesday night the city council revised its current fiscal year budget by reallocating funds to cover unanticipated expenditures during the current year.

With the completion of the Kings Row road project, remaining construction funds in the amount of $185,834 were returned to the city’s property development fund.

Additional attorney fees of $125,000 were added from the city general fund reserve account to cover Redistricting ($30,000); City Attorney ($10,000); Labor Attorney ($10,000) and Borough Formation ($75,000).

Damage to the harbor crane dock will cost $14,300 to repair. The harbor staff reports that replacement of wood and steel piling at the crane dock, along with other maintenance items is necessitated by broken piling due in part to boats pivoting against the piling as they pull away from the facility. Tamico, Inc. provided the estimate for the dock work.

The majority of discussion time was expended discussing the one-time use of SEAPA rebate funds in the amount of $48,500 to be added to the Parks and Recreation funds of $50,500 to purchase an insulated cover for the swimming pool.

The council was opposed to granting enterprise funds from the electric utility to pay for the cover, but said the utility savings to Parks and Rec would be significant.

Councilor Koenigs supported the fund transfer as a loan, but said the Power and Light funds belong to all the utility ratepayers.

Power and Light superintendent Joe Nelson said it was up to the council as to what to do with the annual rebate from the Southeast Alaska Power Agency. He said this year’s check of $440,000 was nearly $100,000 over what Petersburg Municipal Power and Light had budgeted for.

Nelson said the rebate was equal to a one-cent decrease in the 6.8-cent wholesale rates his utility pays for SEAPA power. He added that, “Future rebates will go by the wayside.”

SEAPAs reserve accounts are healthy and the agency benefits by selling power to purchasing utilities at 5.8 cents/kwh.

Nelson said he and other SEAPA board members are adamant about lowering wholesale rates to utilities in the coming year.

“In the meantime, we have established a precedent of using these funds for energy savings programs,” said Nelson.

Speaking of the pool cover purchase assistance, Nelson said, “It doesn’t give me too much heartburn to use funds toward this purchase, realizing it should not be a precedent.

“You don’t want to get into the practice of mixing and matching enterprise and general fund accounts,” said Nelson.

The council was informed that the pool cover could save as much as 50% of the city’s share of the pool utilities. P&R Director Donn Hayes told the Pilot later that Wrangell experienced such savings after the installation of their cover, and within three years they recovered the purchase cost of the cover from their utility savings.

Utility costs for both the pool and community gym run between $15,000 and $21,000 per month and the cost is shared with the school district. Hayes said his department’s share for the pool is about $5,000 to $8,000/month.

Councilor Rick Braun added, “Every kilowatt we save is available to SEAPA to sell to Ketchikan. I agree, I would not like us to make a habit of this, but in this case it is appropriate since it will save electricity.”

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