Kodiak City Council Frustrated After Borough Assembly Breaks Memorandum of Agreement

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak City Council discussed the Kodiak Island Borough’s return to the 1997 Uniform Building Code at its work session Tuesday night. The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly made the change in an attempt to relax engineering codes for home owner-builders constructing homes in the borough and to remove restrictions and decrease cost.

Doug Mathers, city building official, spoke before the council at its work session. The city building department also serves as the borough’s building resource through a memorandum of agreement.

Among Mathers’ concerns were the multiple codes now in existence that the building department needs to be familiar with and inspect to– the 1997 UBC in the borough, the 2012 international residential code within city limits, and others, including the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical codes.

Mathers also said the building department’s Insurance Services Office rating might be degraded for one and two-family dwellings, which would affect home insurance rates.

“Basically, when we adopted the 2012 code, before we adopted it, the classification for one a one or two family dwelling would be 10, which is the worst, because our 1997 code was more than five years old. With adopting the new code and a few other things I implemented, our class for one or two family dwellings now is a 4.”

Members of the council, like Rich Walker, expressed frustration that the borough assembly had not consulted the council prior to its code change.

“I don’t see where it’s going to save them that much in the overall scheme of things, and then they turn around and do all this, breaking our MOA. They’re not even coming over and talking to us about it, which I think is ludicrous.”

Mathers agreed that this change would not help home owner-builders save money. He said contractors will set their own prices.

City manager Aimée Kniaziowski said the council need to move forward carefully.

“I’m concerned with liability. If our employees are saying, okay, we’ve inspected, but we’re doing the ’97, and something happens that isn’t adequate – because the MOA says the city is fully responsible and will carry the insurance.”

She suggested the city run the memorandum of agreement by the city attorneys and insurance brokers and revisit it. Councilman John Whiddon also pointed out the city’s responsibility in borough construction and said the assembly violated the MOA.

“And that’s a fact, because they changed  building code to ’97, so that was my question to Doug about the liabilities, is what liabilities do we accrue now what we have essentially two building codes, how much are we liable? So, I think if you can get that information for us, I think it’s gonna be an easy decision.”

Mayor Pat Branson said the city would get the answers it needs and revisit the MOA at its next work session on June 21.

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