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Blue Lake, sales tax holidays on new Assembly’s agenda

Blue Lake overflows its spillway in September. The Assembly will decide Tuesday whether to apply for permission to issue more than $80 million in bonds to fund the dam’s expansion. (Photo by Ted Laufenberg)

Sitka’s new mayor and Assembly members will be sworn in Tuesday at Harrigan Centennial Hall, and they won’t have long to wait before making some big decisions.

The Assembly will decide whether to apply for permission to issue more than $80 million in bonds, to help fund the Blue Lake dam expansion. Tuesday’s vote doesn’t issue the bonds. It merely asks the Alaska Municipal Bond bank for permission to do so.

City Finance Director Jay Sweeney says the city will likely issue bonds up to $30 million in February. Anything beyond that would depend on how much funding comes from the state or other sources. Sweeney says the city can issue revenue bonds without a public vote.

The Assembly tonight will also decide whether to designate sales tax holidays. In recent years, the city has suspended its sales tax for two days, usually right after Thanksgiving. One option tonight would keep those dates. A second would put one of the holidays at the end of this month, and another on the day after Thanksgiving.

CLICK TO ENLARGE. Pacific High School’s redesign includes a more traditionally sloped roof, which addresses concerns the Sitka Assembly expressed in January. (Image: McCool Carlson Green Architects)

Also on the table tonight: Approval of a $1.9 million construction contract to renovate Pacific High School. The deal would go to Homer-based Sunland Development, which was the lowest bidder. Voters approved funding for the project in 2010. Nearly two thirds of the project is paid for by the state.

The Pacific High question is early enough on the agenda that it’s likely to be heard by the outgoing Assembly, before newly elected members are sworn in.

Tonight’s meeting is the last for Mayor Cheryl Westover and Assembly member Bill Paden. Mim McConnell will move into the mayor’s seat, Phyllis Hackett will continue on the Assembly, and Matt Hunter and Michelle Putz will join the table.

The meeting gets started at 6 p.m. inside Centennial Hall, with an hour-long work session beforehand, to hear the city’s fourth-quarter financial results. Raven Radio will begin live coverage on-air at 6 p.m.

You can listen online by clicking “Listen Live” at 6 p.m. AKDT.

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