Petersburg voters oppose purchase of Reid property
With the only contested race on the ballot being for two seats on the Harbor Board, the propositions in this election become the hot topics.
Petersburg voters returned with a resounding no to the purchase of the Reid Marine Property by an almost two to one vote. In unofficial results, 515 people voted no, and 274 voted yes for the Reid property purchase. The asking price for the land is $1.4 million and was to be paid for with a mix of local funding sources including a hike in harbor rates.
According to Trident Seafoods Plant Manager Dave Ohmer the Reid Marine Property is still an essential piece of infrastructure.
“This property could have contributed to our strengthening economy for the next 50 years,” Ohmer said. “But we have been hit with the overwhelming voice of the people and they have made their position clear.”
Ohmer also explained that this is the beautiful part of the democratic process, the people have spoken loud and clear and he hopes we can move forward in the most positive way for the community.
“This has sent us a pretty clear message,” Petersburg Harbormaster Glorianne Wollen said. “I guess the public doesn’t want us to plan for the future.”
Wollen explained that the City and Harbor Department would continue with the status quo and just try to maintain things as they are.
“Our main objective now is to keep the commercial fleet viable,” Wollen stated. “We may be looking at raising the moorage rates in the near future.”
Petersburg City Manager Steve Giesbrecht stated that this has been a key issue with the community.
“The public is obviously against this purchase,” Giesbrecht said. “I’ve been pretty open on this subject and really don’t have an opinion but with the sales tax cap issue, I do have an opinion.”
In the other ballot question of increasing the sales tax cap, this issue is evenly split and could still go either way.
Proposition two would raise the city’s cap on sales tax on purchases from $1,200 to $1,700. The unofficial count has 392 votes against and 390 votes for, a difference of only two votes.
“This issue will be decided with the absentee ballots that are still out there,” Petersburg City Clerk Kathy O’Rear said. “We have 19 absentee ballots available. If they are received by Friday and are postmarked by election day, they will be opened and counted.”
“We are still waiting for results of the sales tax cap vote,” Wollen said. “We are really disappointed because this will force us into a position of having to make up those funds in other ways.”
According to Giesbrecht, even if all of the uncounted absentee ballots are one way or the other, this will come down to an extremely close race.
“We would all love to not pay taxes,” Giesbrecht said. “But the City wants a nice community and nice services, so we will have to find a way to pay for them.”
Giesbrecht also explained that if proposition two does not pass it will be a huge disappointment and officials will have to figure out another way to put more money in the hands of the harbor and schools.
Proposition one, withdrawal from the Inter-Island Ferry Authority, passed easily. Voters overwhelmingly agreed to withdraw with 626 votes yes and 150 votes no.
Two incumbents, Bob Martin and Kurt Wohlhueter will return to serve on the Harbor Board with Martin receiving 573 votes and Wohlhueter receiving 546 and runner-up Peter Schultz receiving 190.
The turnout for this election was 799 votes cast, including 154 absentee ballots cast by Monday’s deadline.
These results are unofficial until canvassed by the City Council Friday, Oct. 5.