City Approves Tax Break for Housing Complex

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Jacob Resneck/KMXT

The city of Kodiak has agreed to give the Kodiak Island Housing Authority a break on its property taxes for a new housing development. The project on Madsen Avenue now nearing completion will give nine adults between the age of 18 and 22 subsidized housing. The young adults have to be enrolled in college, vocational courses or completing their GED to qualify.

The agreement was approved by a unanimous vote of the city council. It adds the housing complex to a list of at least three other Housing Authority complexes that receive exemptions.

The financial impact on the city is projected to be small. The 2009 taxes for the Madsen Avenue property was estimated to be about $2,600 but city staff did not offer an estimate of how much the authority would pay the city under the new agreement though it would certainly be much less.

Councilman John Whiddon noted that the city has heard from concerned neighbors. Others on the council like Josie Rosales expressed their support saying "give these kids a chance."

In other developments, the city heard from a group of trawl fishermen last night who said an impending rule change by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council could threaten their livelihood. Concerned about the Tanner crab population ending up as bycatch, the fishery council is mulling several closure options off the southeastern coast Kodiak Island when it convenes next month in Anchorage.

The city listened to the testimony of Patrick O’Donnell, vice president of the Alaska White Fish Trawlers Association. He said nearly half his income comes from flatfish, the majority of which he says he catches in the areas proposed to be set off-limits.

Fellow trawler Curt Walters urged the city to request an economic impact report. He submitted a report that 15 percent of the fish landing on Kodiak’s docks was flatfish, generating $4.5 million annually for fishermen.

"Slow this process down until they can do an economic impact survey," he urged the city council.

Councilors were initially divided on how to proceed. Councilman Tom Walters recommended the city send a strongly worded letter to the fishery council urging it delay action until a formal economic impact study is completed.

But Deputy Mayor Terry Haines noted that the fishery council had been working on this for years. He warned that a letter of outright opposition would likely not sway the fishery council. Instead he said the city should make its recommendation within the framework of the options being considered.

Councilman John Whiddon agreed, saying the issue would likely be "very divisive" and that the city shouldn’t hastily take one side or another.

The city then resolved to schedule a special meeting for next Wednesday at 6 p.m. to draft its letter after councilors have a chance to research the issue. The letter will be delivered to the fishery council when it meets next month in Anchorage.

Other actions included approval of as much as $24,000 for furnishings in the new jail, which is expected to open by the end of the year. The city also approved a $30,000 contract for lobbying services in Washington from Hoffman Silver Gilman & Blasco.

Councilman Gabriel Saravia was absent from the meeting.

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