Tuesday night (03-28-17), the Sitka Assembly postponed discussing the hire of Sitka’s new city administrator until their next meeting on April 11th.

Since January, the Assembly has whittled the applicant list from 50 to two. Utility Director Bryan Bertacchi withdrew his name Monday. Only Sitka Fire Chief Dave Miller and Homer Public Works Director Carey Meyer remain. Read about their last interview here.

Moving forward, Mark Danielson, the city’s human resources director, informed the Assembly of their options. “Our choices are: 1) We go forward with one or both of the current candidates, 2) we revisit the applicant list 3) we could go out again and extend. That’s not unusual. We see it happening in Wrangell today. 4) And then there’s the recruiter option. So that’s sort of my synopsis for where we are on our journey.  I’m sure that we’re going to find somebody good for the City of Sitka.” Danielson estimates a recruiting firm would cost $30,000, but promises broader advertising throughout the Pacific Northwest and a refund, should the hired administrator leave the job in a year. 

With Assemblymen Bob Potrzuski and Steven Eisenbeisz absent, the five members showed interest in revisiting their top 16 candidates from February. Aaron Bean reasoned, “Let’s try to vet the candidates that we already have with the money we’ve already spent.”

A recent sinkhole on Lot 4. The shoreline is being eroded from wave action. The Gary Paxton Industrial Park Board wants to draw upon an emergency contingency fund to stabilize the shoreline with armor rock. (GPIP Photo)

The Assembly also authorized funding to protect the shoreline of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park from further erosion. Executive Director Gary White explained that a bank along Lot 4 is being undercut by wave action. “The erosion is getting so bad that it has the potential to affect the foundation of one of our highest valued buildings out there, which would be the former boat company building. We call it Building 4690. We have to fix this or we could lose our highest revenue producing property out there,” White said.

GPIP developed a shoreline stabilization project and requested $250,000  from their contingency fund to pay for that, which the Assembly granted.

On second and final reading, the Assembly also approved an ordinance (Ord 2017-08) to loosen sales tax penalties. If a business is in good standing – with no outstanding debt – and pays their sales taxes late by accident within a seven day window, the city will waive the 5% penalty fee. Juneau has a similar policy in place.

The Assembly also honored the AmeriCorps program – declaring April 4th AmeriCorps Day – and heard a presentation from NOAA on the repercussions of humans feeding Steller’s sea lions. Under the Marine Mammal Protection act, it is is illegal to feed sea lions. Not only does it endanger the marine mammal physically, but Suryan explained that it habituates them to humans as a feeding source. This can result in aggressive behavior and lose of gear, time, and money for fisherman. 

Suryan added that in the past two decades, NOAA and ADF&G have tracked 750 sea lions entangled in marine debris and fishing gear. “Most of the time we can’t even tell what the entanglement material is because it’s too deeply embedded in the neck. But when we can see it, it’s usually packing bands or black rubber bands used in the crab fishery,” Suryan said.

She described a multi-agency campaign called “Lose the Loop,” which encourages fishermen to cut loops before discarding them and reducing the use of synthetic material.

Sea Lion Entanglement PSA from ADF&G on Vimeo.