The Ride is operated by the Center For Community in partnership with Sitka Tribe of Alaska. (KCAW File Photo)

The Sitka Assembly contributed funding to public transportation, but otherwise conducted little public business at a special budget meeting on Wednesday (5/22/19).

The meeting was billed as a penultimate opportunity for changes to the 2020 municipal budget. Assembly member Kevin Mosher brought the sole motion of the evening to the table: To include funding for Sitka’s public transportation service, the Community Ride.

“They emailed the assembly about an hour ago, something that I think they had sent a couple of weeks or months ago,  a request for the 25,000,” Mosher said, and continued that he thought the omission of the funds in the FY2020 budget may have been an oversight.

The Ride is operated by the Center For Community in partnership with Sitka Tribe of Alaska. Assembly member Richard Wein said that $25,000 was a bargain for Sitkans, considering to the service The Ride provides.

“Sitka can in no way support the services that are being rendered to Sitkans,” he said. “That’s 218 rides a day, there are 50,000 plus rides a year. I think that it’s a wonderful partnership that we need to support.”

The motion passed 4-0.

Wein said there were a number of things he wanted to discuss, but with only four assembly members present, he postponed any further amendments to the budget. But he did float one idea: More funding for a “planting program” paid for with cruise ship head tax funds.

“I would like to see either some CPET funds or visitor enhancement funds within the six figure range where we can develop a planting program to help hire but also plant a core portion of the city to enhance visitor experience when they come down here,” he said.

“Do we not have a beautification committee?” Mayor Gary Paxton asked.

“There is but the question is money,” Wein said.

Sitka has a long-established Tree & Landscape Committee. But Wein said he would bring his idea to the table for consideration again at a future meeting.

The assembly then went into executive session to discuss the current status of union negotiations between Alaska State Employees Association and the Public Safety Employees Association. City administrator Keith Brady said negotiations with the IBEW, which represents electrical workers, would begin in June. The assembly was in executive session for one hour and adjourned with no further action.

The assembly will review the FY2020 budget on second reading at its next regular meeting on May 28.