City Council Weighs in on Fisheries Analyst Contract

Kayla Desroches/KMXT    

The Kodiak City Council is at odds with the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly over the renewal of the contract with its joint fisheries analyst. The contract was originally to extend Heather McCarty’s employment for another year, but the assembly was split at its last regular meeting and amended the contract to a length of six months. The main motion on the contract passed 4-to-1 with Assemblyman Mel Stephens dissenting.

Stephens said he is opposed because McCarty has fallen short of what she promised and contracted to do.

“You will see where Heather McCarty stated and I quote, on a quarterly schedule, I will provide written reports to the borough assembly and city council and make presentations to their joint meetings. She’s had the contract for two years. That’s eight quarterly reports. There have been a number of joint meetings since that time. I can find no quarterly reports.”

The Kodiak City Council discussed the contract at its work session Tuesday night and Councilman John Whiddon, who sits on the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group, said he’s never had issues with McCarty as a contractor. He said those problems should have been brought to the table a long time ago.

“We need to communicate and have a conversation with the borough as to exactly what are their goals and objectives as far as the fisheries analyst goes. What do they expect? I also would like to see us as a city be not secondary to the borough on this. That we both are paying equal amounts for this and having the borough drag the issue I think is wrong.”

Whiddon stressed the importance of Kodiak’s active involvement in issues like bycatch management and the fisheries analyst’s role in that – for instance, McCarty’s representation of Kodiak at North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings. Whiddon suggested the council go ahead and extend the contract for a minimum of one year and rethink the organization of the fisheries work group should the assembly be unwilling to meet that contract length.

Mayor Pat Branson said the process with the assembly has been frustrating.

“If you have comments or concerns much like what John is saying the borough had with Heather and this contract, it should have come out way before and not on the dais at last week’s meeting. To me that was most inappropriate.”

She stressed the importance of communication between the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and the Kodiak City Council, and Councilman Gabriel Saravia also said he supports an open line of communication.

“I agree with [the] mayor. I think it’s very important to have a meeting with the borough as soon as possible and clarify what you want to do. And, that way, we know the answer and if we go together it’s better, if we have to go alone, we go alone, but at least we talk and we understand each other.”
Branson said if the council wants to move forward on the year-long contract at its next regular meeting, which is tonight, the council and assembly should hold a joint work session to discuss that contract on February 24. Furthermore, the council agreed that staff should touch base with McCarty.

The fisheries analyst contract is on the agenda for the council’s regular meeting tonight, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the assembly chambers.

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