No major decisions were made Monday(5-12-14) night, when the Sitka Tribal Council and Sitka Assembly held their semi-annual joint meeting. But the two elected bodies maintained their dialogue about issues important to the community — which is why they meet at all.
First it was a meal of pulled pork, and then to work:
Rachel Moreno: Thank you. One of the biggest concerns and most immediate are how our elders are going to pay for this rate increase when they are already on fixed incomes.
Tribal Council member Rachel Moreno was worried about the cost of utilities going up in the coming year.
Other members requested City support in promoting the Herring Festival throughout Southeast Alaska. City Administrator Mark Gorman suggested this might be achieved in conjunction with a Sitka Fish Summit – something SEDA has started to map out.
Mark Gorman: Modelling it a little bit on Whale Fest. Focus on the processors, the commercial fisherman the marketers. Get people together and try to grow it.
Lillian Feldpausch: It still would be nice to have the Tribe’s input on it.
Lillian Feldpausch asked that the cultural side of the industry be represented.
Feldpausch: And the effects it would have on traditional foods.
Gorman: I think you’re exactly right that the Tribe will be an important partner in the development of this idea.
Other topics that the group discussed included the Centennial Hall Redesign – and plans to incorporate artwork celebrating Native culture. As well as the placement of a Tlingit ceremonial canoe. Nothing has been finalized, but both groups agreed that a member of the tribe should join the design committee.
Also, the Sitka Community RIDE. Gerry Hope, who runs the RIDE, explained how a federal transportation bill will reduce the Tribe’s budget for the green line from $240,000 to around $80,000 next year. Tribal members asked that the city chip in.
Moreno: It’s a responsibility that we have for all Sitka residents. So I would like to see that small amount that we’re asking for in 12 years… The public transit has not had to ask for money from the city so I think this is the first time in 12 years.
Lastly on the list: Affordable housing.
Harvey Kitka: Some of the young people coming out of high school wondering how going to afford $380,000 home that is considered affordable. To my standards that would have never been affordable.
Gorman mentioned plans to pilot two float home slips in ANB harbor, which could open the door to more affordable options down the line.
Overall, Mayor Mim McConnell said the meeting was successful.
Mim McConnell: This has been good nice to have good discussion and delving into sticky issues that’s always exciting. So, I know I have a few things to look into.
The next step? Continue the conversation.