Borough Assembly Establishes Lands Committee, Approves Hiring of New Borough Employee

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

At its regular meeting last night, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly discussed approving nonprofit grants, hiring a resource management officer, and establishing a lands committee. Borough manager Bud Cassidy says the committee would be a borough standing committee and it would…

“…assist and identify creative and workable solutions to ongoing and emerging issues in the selection, acquisition management and disposal of borough rural property and resources, provide input on any land sale plans, provide input on the utilization of borough land that achieves multiple land and housing options, and provide a forum for discussion and development of specific sites and projects.”

… among other duties.

Assemblywoman Chris Lynch had expressed concern at a previous work session about establishing more governing bodies, and remained against adding the committee.

“I would feel more comfortable if we are to evaluate and look and collaborate on land, that we do a twice a year land summit – call together all the big land owners,” said Lynch. “A better use of staff time, and yes this will take a lot of staff time, would be to actually do the work that it takes to make property available for a land sale.”

Assemblyman Aaron Griffin voiced a need for the committee and said he would be voting in favor of it.

“There’s not enough time in the assembly’s hands,” he said. “Our agendas are full as it is. We do not have time for the minutia of that and I think that this committee is an excellent place to start. Now, maybe in the long run, it won’t work out, but we sure wouldn’t know if we don’t try.”

The motion to move forward on establishing the committee carried.

The assembly also amended its nonprofit funding before approving the fiscal year 2016 grant amounts. Its budget is $390,000, 5 percent less than last year, and the assembly decided to grant the Brother Francis Shelter and the Kodiak Island Food Bank the money from the contingency of $9,850.

Griffin cautioned nonprofits to be prepared for more cuts.

“I would hedge your bets that as money gets tighter, which it will be, that we will be refocusing money into those areas that we have identified as critical needs, and prepare now,” said Griffin.

The assembly also discussed the salary for an applicant to the resource management officer position, Duane Dvorak.

In a previous meeting, the assembly had rejected a starting salary for being too high. Borough Manager Bud Cassidy is in charge of the hiring process and returned with the same applicant after having negotiated a lower starting amount. Cassidy says pushing offers any lower on the scale the borough uses to determine salary would be difficult.

“We’ve had up to maybe two fire chiefs turn down that wage, we’ve recently had a planning position that turned down that wage, and it just doesn’t work to try to hire an experienced person at a step A, B, or C,” said Cassidy. “I think you got a good candidate here, and I think he’s a person who could perform the job.”

Assemblyman Dennis Symmons said he would not be supporting the hire and that the salary is still too high.

“I can remember very vividly sitting in that audience and recognizing that something has become orthodox, and that is these appointments above scale. And I applaud what I did not see happening the last time. This was shot down. And there were some good points mentioned, that this is downscale,” said Symmons.

Assemblyman Larry LeDoux says the investment in salary is worth it compared to spending the money on someone who only appears qualified.

“To have someone’s whose resume indicates that they can do the job based on their past performance in Kodiak with knowledge of our laws and certainly with the knowledge of what this community wants, which is to make land available, to streamline the bureaucracy. We need someone that knows the system,” he said.

The motion to hire the applicant carried 4 to 2.  

The assembly also voted to waive the zoning compliance, building, electrical, and plumbing permit fees related to relocation from Jackson Mobile Home Park. The assembly did not hold discussion on the resolution, but Cassidy did note that the Kodiak City Council would pass a similar resolution at its next regular meeting, which is scheduled for September 10.

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