Author Archives: Rachel Waldholz, KCAW

Sitka Assembly chooses smaller electric rate increase

Sitka’s electric rates are going up, but not as much as they might have. The Sitka Assembly on Monday chose the smaller of two potential rate hikes, by a vote of 4 to 3. A household using about 1000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month will see their electric bill go up by about $8 a month.

Sitka Budget: City says utility rates must rise

This chart compares current monthly utility costs with two proposals before the Sitka Assembly. Option 1 reflects Ordinance 15-23, which would raise electric rates for an average Sitka household by about 6% this year. Option 2 reflects Ordinance 15-17, which would raise electric rates by about 23%. Both options include a 10% increase in water rates, a 4.9% increase in wastewater rates, and a 13% increase in solid waste rates. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)It's not just electric rates - Sitka is also proposing increases in water, sewer and garbage rates. KCAW's Rachel Waldholz is tracking the city budget. She sat down with News Director Robert Woolsey to break down the numbers.

Sitka artist hopes to bring otter to the runway

Peter Williams (right) with models Jerica Young, Anthony Flora and Denise Reed, at TechStyle NYC during Fashion Week in February. (Photo courtesy of TechStyle NYC)This spring, Sitka artist and marine mammal hunter Peter Williams took a trip to New York City, to show his work during fashion week. He's been trying to break into the lucrative fashion world for years. His goal is to bring Alaska Native designs to luxury buyers worldwide. Williams says that one way to save a traditional art form, is to create a market for it.

Assembly considers tobacco, sales tax hikes

Deputy Mayor Matt Hunter and Mayor Mim McConnell during Tuesday night's Sitka Assembly meeting. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)After more than a year of warning that Sitka must either raise new revenue or cut services, the City Assembly passed three tax measures in quick succession last night / Tuesday night (4-28-15). The proposals would increase sales taxes and double the tobacco tax. The movement was prompted by the needs of the Sitka School District.

Assembly approves electric rate hikes on first reading

Sitkans should expect electric rates to rise this year, but it’s not clear yet by how much. The assembly passed two separate rate increases, on first reading. One would raise rates all at once, while the other would likely spread the increase over several years.

Assembly gives high marks to City Administrator, Attorney

City Administrator Mark Gorman, speaking with the assembly at his evaluation, on April 22, 2015. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)The Sitka Assembly gave City Administrator Mark Gorman and City Attorney Robin Koutchak high marks at their annual evaluations on Tuesday night (4-21-15). And while a good evaluation usually means a pay raise, both of Sitka’s top officials declined to take any more salary, in light of next year’s unusually tight budget.

Feds propose removing most humpback whales from endangered species list

NOAA Fisheries has proposed splitting humpbacks into fourteen populations and removing ten of those populations from the endangered species list. (Amy Kennedy/NOAA)The federal government is proposing to remove most humpback whales from the endangered species list. Forty-five years after the whales were first listed, federal scientists say that most humpback populations -- including those common in Alaska - are stable and growing.

School Board postpones final budget vote after city protests

The April 15 meeting was billed as a "final" budget hearing, but the School Board postponed a final vote until after the legislature makes its decisions on education funding. From left: Sitka Schools Superintendent Mary Wegner, and School Board members Tom Conley, Jennifer Robinson, Lon Garrison, Tim Fulton, Kaya Duguay, and Cass Pook. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)The Sitka School Board’s decision to cut the Community Schools program drew a protest from the city last week (4-15-15). That disagreement led the board to postpone a final vote on the district budget.

Harrigan Centennial Hall renovation will go out to bid

A rendering of what the new lobby would look like after the renovation of Harrigan Centennial Hall. (Image courtesy of McCool Carlson Green)The Assembly voted Tuesday night to put the Centennial Hall renewal project out to bid. The renovation will expand the building’s meeting and convention spaces and create a new, second entrance on the waterfront. Assembly members stressed that the project is being paid for entirely with state grants -- not with city money.

Assembly postpones discussion of electric rates

The Assembly put off a discussion of whether to raise electric rates until a special meeting on April 23. And while assembly members expressed support for finding an additional $1-million for Sitka schools, they couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for any of the specific proposals before them.