December 19, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 51

Assembly to hold public hearing on salvage permits

The borough assembly will hold a public hearing concerning the recent changes made to the landfill’s salvage program.

The changes come after the sanitation ordinance was updated to include the new recycling program.

Karl Hagerman, public works director, reworked the fee structure. Originally, a salvage permit cost $5 for two days and $100 for an annual permit.

After the changes, the annual permit was eliminated and a day use permit now costs $10 for one day.

Ole Whitethorn has now objected to the change several times during assembly meetings. He uses the permit for commercial purposes and donates around $10,000 of his revenues back into local organizations like Viking Swim Club and the Chamber of Commerce.

“Without this salvage, that money couldn’t be donated out to these people…I just think there should be some public input on this before the borough assembly makes the decision,” Whitethorn said.

Whitethorn estimated that commercial salvagers earn around $60,000 to $80,000 a year from the borough’s landfill and said most of that money circulates back into the local economy.

John Hoag, assembly member, asked Whitethorn why the borough shouldn’t take advantage of the revenue opportunities from salvaging.

“Since it’s come into the borough, it’s on the borough’s landfill…shouldn’t the borough, on behalf of its citizens, sell that to help with these recycling costs?”

Whitethorn said the borough would get bottom dollar for its scrap metal and defended his point that the money the commercial salvagers make goes back into the community.

“It can be boiled down to something really simple,” Steve Giesbrecht, borough manager, said to the assembly. “Do you want us to continue to have a commercial aspect to our salvage or not?”

Hoag suggested a public hearing. He also requested Hagerman and his staff to respond and communicate with Whitethorn and other commercial salvagers.

“Let’s see what kind of agreement or non-agreement there is on numbers so we know whose ox is getting gored for how much,” Hoag said.

Hagerman said in an earlier meeting that the salvage program was never designed for commercial purposes and the new ordinance changes were designed to curb the practice.

Mayor Mark Jensen referenced a commercial salvaging program in Ketchikan and agreed a public hearing should be scheduled.

Hoag also asked staff to look into other Southeast Alaska commercial salvaging programs.

The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 21 at 6 p.m. before the regular assembly meeting.

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