Borough discusses how to determine a conflict of interest

Kodiak Island Borough Assembly deliberates. (Photo by Mitch Borden/KMXT)

Mitch Borden/KMXT

The question of what constitutes a conflict of interest once again took center stage at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly regular meeting on Thursday. The borough defines a conflict of interest as an individual having a substantial direct or indirect financial interest in a topic or decision.

An ordinance to modify and clarify the policy was scheduled for its first reading at the meeting. The proposal would define what “substantial financial interest” means. Currently, the borough doesn’t properly define the phrase in its code.

All of the comments to the assembly from members of the public at the meeting touched on the conflict of interest issue. The majority were against the assembly passing the ordinance in its current form. John Whiddon, a member of the Kodiak city council, doesn’t think the assembly should haphazardly change borough code.

“This ordinance is a solution looking for a problem. The existing ordinances have served the borough effectively for several decades.”

There were two versions of the ordinance before the assembly. Both outlined positions a person could have that’d constitute a substantial financial interest.

The first version of the ordinance appeared before the assembly in a work session earlier in the week.  It stated: “a person who has an ownership interest, or is a director, officer or employee of an organization or entity has a substantial financial interest in regard to that organization.”

That means an assembly member could not vote or discuss any action pertaining to an organization they’re directly associated with. The second version had similar language but eliminated the term “employee”  from the list.

Assemblyman Andy Schroeder wasn’t satisfied with either version of the ordinance and thinks it needs more work.

“I don’t think it’s ready for prime time. I think we need to go back to work session with it.”

The assembly ended up voting 6-0 to move the ordinance forward to its second reading and public hearing. But delayed it until February 15th. The majority of the assembly agreed it should take its time with this issue.

Assemblyman Matthew Van Daele did not vote because he was not present at the meeting.

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