Author Archives: Rachel Waldholz, KCAW

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.

Coast Guard rescues hiker on Chichagof Island

A map identifying Gull Cove, on the north end of Chichagof Island, as shown on the Gull Cove Lodge website.A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued a hiker early Saturday morning (4-11-15) after she went missing from a lodge on Chichagof Island.

Assembly to consider additional $1-million for schools

The Sitka School Board and Assembly met for a budget work session on April 9, 2015. (Rachel Waldholz/KCAW)The Sitka School Board's budget assumes the city will increase its funding by $1-million this year. Now, the Assembly is considering where that money might come from. Options range from eliminating sales tax exemptions to cutting library hours to putting a tax increase on the October ballot.

Visioning session to ask: What does healthy Sitka mean to you?

Melissa Marconi Wentzel discusses the Sitka Health Summit's upcoming Visioning Session. Participants will imagine where they'd like to see Sitka in five years, taking into account everything from public health to arts and culture, housing and transportation, access to healthy food and health behaviors. The event will be Thursday, April 16, from 5:30-7:30 at Kettleson Memorial Library (in the Stratton Building). Organizers will provide a light dinner, and childcare and activities for kids. You can find more information at sitkahealthsummitak.org. Downloadable audio