Petersburg Pilot -

Assembly silent on Kake access road funding reallocation

 


One could hear the proverbial crickets chirping after Petersburg Mayor Mark Jensen brought up the assembly’s previous request to have a discussion about the possibility of re-appropriating money from the Kake access road project.

During its last Borough Assembly meeting in January, several assembly members were in support of such a reallocation and suggested a bulk of the money go to projects for Kake and Petersburg.

State Senator Bert Stedman appropriated the $40 million in 2012 for the project that would build a road and ferry connection from Kake to Petersburg, but the project has since come under criticism.

Rep. Jonathan Kriess-Tomkins said because of state budget deficit and the scramble for new cuts and revenues, it’s not likely the money would stay in the district this year.

“I’ve had a few sidebar conversations about the process and it’s probably not…there’s a lot of complexity there,” Kriess-Tomkins said. “Hopefully that information has been communicated (to the assembly) but I appreciate that there’s a wide spectrum of opinions on that project in Petersburg.”

In a separate interview Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht said there’s a possibility the project’s funding, that was originally meant to help Kake, would disappear from the district if the assembly formally requested the funding be re-appropriated.

“I think right now the fear is if the assembly does that, Anchorage is going to take it,” Giesbrecht said. “They’ve got a lot more legislators than we do and if Petersburg and Kake say they don’t want that money the chance that the two of us get to split it in some fashion might not be as good as people hope it would be.”

Borough Assembly member Jeigh Stanton Gregor brought up the discussion during the January meeting and advocated at Monday’s meeting the subject be tabled until a later date.

“Given the legislative climate I think right now we run significant risks of jeopardizing that money for the Petersburg Borough, Kake, etcetera, in any form if the issue is pushed at this point,” Stanton Gregor said.

Since no assembly member made a motion to discuss the reallocation, there was no need to table it.

Later in the meeting Assembly Member Kurt Wohlhueter suggested the Borough Assembly prepare a resolution on what projects it could use the money for should the funding be re-appropriated.

“It would be kind of handy, I would think, that we do have a resolution already stated that we do have a purpose for a portion of that money,” Wohlhueter said.

He cited several harbor projects and the municipal building remodel as potential projects that could use the money.

Mayor Mark Jensen said to do that they’d have to take formal action.

The funding issue will be brought up later this month when Jensen, and Borough Assembly members Cindi Lagoudakis and Bob Lynn head to Juneau for the Alaska Municipal League conference.

Borough officials plan on meeting with legislators to discuss potential KFSK funding cuts, land selection issues, community jail contract funding, ferry service issues and harbor project funding.

 

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