Assembly and Council Move Toward Better Communication

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and Kodiak City Council talked communication at their joint work session Tuesday night. First on the agenda was the assembly’s decision to change building codes, which it did without sitting down with the council.

The borough and city share a building department through a memorandum of agreement, and the assembly’s decision to revert back to a code with more relaxed engineering requirements led to the possibility of the city dissolving that MOA. At the joint work session, the assembly and council decided that borough and city staff would look over the wording of the MOA and then bring it before the Joint Building Code Review Committee.

Next on the agenda, both bodies talked about the assembly’s decision to put an advisory question to the voters in the upcoming October election as to whether or not the borough and city should consolidate into one government. As with the building code issue, the assembly and council failed to meet about the issue before the assembly okay’d it.

Councilman John Whiddon asked that the assembly include on the ballot a description of what consolidation would look like and its associated costs, and City Mayor Pat Branson added that she hopes the assembly would include some history as well.

However, the emphasis of the joint work session was on communication.

Whiddon said they have a responsibility to work together.

“As opposed to perpetuating this communication gap we’ve had and this conundrum that we’ve been working with. At least for me, my commitment is there’s problems to be solved in this community that would be solved better and more efficiently if we work together as joint bodies when we come together as joint bodies.”

Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner pinpointed an area of confusion. She said on some topics the assembly believed it was communicating because city and borough staff had touched base.

“And I think for some things that’s entirely appropriate. For example, reviewing the MOA, that has to do with the building officials, but there’s other things that would be policy level, and that seems to be where we’re getting more tripped up. So, I think policy level things need to be between the bodies, but then I’m sitting here thinking, well, is it obvious what a policy level topic is?”

She said they should come up with a protocol and figure out what staff should talk about versus what the assembly and council should address.

They decided they would meet in a joint work session every other month and agreed the borough and city clerks would work on scheduling a consistent date for those meetings. They also talked about setting the next joint work session for some time in October.

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