The Sitka Assembly meets at 5 p.m. in Harrigan Centennial Hall for a work session. Raven News will broadcast the regular meeting live at 6 p.m. (KCAW Photo)

The Sitka Assembly will look closely at taxes, drinking water, and the herring fishery when it meets in regular session tonight (04-24-17).

See full agenda here: 180424_AssemblyAgenda

They’ll begin with a 5 p.m. work session on water. All municipal water currently comes from Blue Lake, but the city wants a backup source in case there’s a major outage. During the work session, the Assembly will review a report from CRW Engineering evaluating two other potential water sources: Indian River and Sawmill Creek. Both would require implementing a filtration system. See report here: FINAL Filtration Evaluation for Critical Secondary Water Supply

When the Assembly enters regular session at 6 p.m., one of the first discussions they’ll have is about eliminating the senior sales tax exemption and replacing it with a rebate program for qualifying, low-income seniors. Not enough Assembly members voted the ordinance (Ord 2018-14) down last meeting to kill the measure, so it will get a second and final reading tonight. 

The Assembly will also consider, on first reading, a proposal (Ord 2018-19) from Assembly members Bob Potrzuski and Aaron Bean to establish a severance tax on the harvest and sale of natural resources, such as rock, fish and timber. Several communities in Western Alaska, such as Kodiak, Dillingham, and Cordova, have such a tax. According to City Staff, it would generate $1.2 million in revenue for the city.

The Assembly will not, however, be voting on an ordinance to raise bed taxes by 2%. That was pulled from the agenda by City Staff for further investigation. The original ordinance (Ord 2018-13) has now been sent back to sponsors Bob Potrzuski and Kevin Knox and may come up again at a future meeting.

In old business, they’ll take a final vote on several budget adjustments, including $75,000 for funding a landslide study near Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Sitka High School and dedicating $100,000 to enhance the delivery system for exporting bulk water.

In new business, the Assembly will also consider an ordinance (Motion and Memo Ord 2018-18that changes how municipal land is sold. It would do away with requiring voter ratification and it would instead make municipal land sales a decision of the Sitka Assembly.

Community Affairs Director Maegan Bosak told KCAW that the ordinance is intended to bring Sitka into compliance with Alaska’s constitution. 

At the end of the meeting, the Assembly will hold a discussion on the future of Sitka sac roe herring fishery. A memo (Motion and Memo Ord 2018-18) from Assembly members Aaron Bean and Richard Wein calls for a “conditional moratorium.”

Raven Radio will join the meeting live in progress at Harrigan Centennial Hall at 6 p.m. KCAW Reporter Emily Kwong will be live tweeting from the meeting too. Follow those updates here