Stough elected to TBPA presidency
WRANGELL — The Thomas Bay Power Authority commission elected Wrangell borough assembly member and TBPA commissioner James Stough to the commission’s presidency Monday.
Stough also briefly served as chairman of the borough’s special energy committee.
The election marks the transfer of the presidency from John Jensen of Petersburg, who’d held the presidency since he joined the board in 2007. Stough was appointed to the board in December.
Stough has since September been publicly critical of the transfer of an operations and maintenance contract at Tyee Lake to the Southeast Alaska Power Agency. Borough assemblies in Petersburg and Wrangell have each voted to support the transfer and steps towards negotiations involving borough managers and SEAPA CEO Trey Acteson, and he mentioned that among the chief issues the commission will tackle in the coming months. However, the most pressing concern right now is finding a way to fund operations at Tyee Lake through the end of the year, Stough said.
“Right now, we’re wrestling with that,” he said. “One of the main concerns is the budget.”
Wrangell has paid a portion of the operating expenses at Tyee known as the non-net billable totaling $110,00 since Petersburg voted not to fund the non-net billable portion earlier in the year. A letter from TBPA manager Mick Nicholls to the board portrayed a situation in which a non-payment of that portion could potentially result in a violation of a union negotiated contract between one or more TBPA employees and the Authority. It wasn’t immediately clear what the potential upshot of the current financial situation would be in the short term. However, Stough has repeatedly accused Petersburg of “not paying their fair share.”
Union contracts are negotiated between TBPA and the union, Stough said.
Petersburg officials have informally and unofficially said they would consider helping to fund operations to maintain the authority until the negotiations concerning the contract are completed. However Stough says he’s seen no evidence Petersburg is considering the action.
“So far, from what I know, Petersburg is not stepping up to the plate,” he said. “The problem with (the arrangement) is that with TBPA not being able to pay their share, that puts the burden on Wrangell until budget time.”
Stough also questioned whether the boroughs would have the legal authority to negotiate the terms of the contract transfer, since the TBPA is what is known as a joint action agency, or a legal construct of both boroughs. He’s requested assistance from the Authority’s attorney on the matter.
“It would help me to understand who has the authority to deal with these questions,” he said. “The boroughs are acting (on one level), but we have contracts that go with unions and other stuff to Thomas Bay Power Authority.”
The commission also re-elected vice president Robert Larson, Secretary Treasurer Dave Galla, and Member-At-Large Brian Ashton.