Petersburg Pilot -

Financial disclosure exemption ordinance advances

 


An ordinance to allow voters to determine whether or not local public officials should be exempt from state financial disclosure requirements was passed on second reading by the Assembly at Monday’s regular meeting.

By Alaska State law, certain public officials are required to report their income sources and other assets in an effort to ensure private interests do not conflict with their public service. Municipalities reserve the right to exempt their local public officials from the requirement, and locally there has been concern that not doing so has had a negative impact on people’s willingness to serve on boards and committees. Further, Assembly members have said that there are sufficient measures in place locally to ensure public officials do not use their public positions for private gain. These include a recall procedure, a charter clause prohibiting public officials from holding paid position with the borough and, for Assembly members, an expectation that members will recuse themselves of any votes on matters in which they have a financial interest.

As the City of Petersburg, officials were exempt from the state requirement. Last October, voters narrowly rejected an ordinance to continue the exemption following Petersburg’s transition to a borough.

Some 122 of Alaska’s 353 municipalities have an exemption from the state law in place, and if the current ordinance passes its third and final reading Aug. 17, Petersburg voters will have the chance to vote Petersburg back in among the exempt municipalities. Otherwise candidates for the Assembly, School Board and Planning Commission will be required to comply with the financial disclosure requirements when running for local office.

The Assembly also approved an ordinance to adjust the FY2015-16 budget for known changes on its third and final reading. Some changes were related to budgeted amounts approved but not spent by the end of the prior fiscal year. Other changes, such as a backup SCADA computer for the Water Department and an additional $80,000 in funds to replace failing manholes discovered during work on Haugen Drive, were discovered early in the new fiscal year.

As part of the Mayor’s report, Vice Mayor Cindi Lagoudakis announced she will represent Petersburg at the upcoming Southeast Conference Annual Meeting in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, on September 15-17. Lagoudakis will attend a transboundary partnership meeting this week in Juneau to discuss mining issues that affect Alaskan waters and fisheries. Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott extended the invitation.

“This is sort of an outgrowth of Mount Polley mine disaster and some of the other things that are happening with mining in Canada and concern for our water quality and the integrity of our fisheries, so I will be attending for the mayor who is out fishing right now,” Lagoudakis said.

 

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