Local News

Commission finalizes written borough decision

Alaska’s Local Boundary Commission has reaffirmed its findings that Petersburg’s Borough plan meets state requirements. Area voters will have the final say. In a teleconferenced meeting Wednesday Morning, the LBC approved its written decision on the matter. Commission staffer Brent Williams said he expected to put the document in the mail by the next day.

“The mail out will start the reconsideration period which is 18 days for the public from the date of the mailing and it is 30 days for the commission. That information is in the decision and as a courtesy to the parties, I will also email it to them so that they can get it as soon as possible,” Williams said.

There were no comments on the final decision Wednesday, either from the commission or the handful of supporters and opponents who were listening online. However, one borough opponent, George Cole, said he had prepared a request for reconsideration.

Wednesday’s teleconference was somewhat of a formality since the commission had actually made its decision with a four to one vote in Petersburg at the beginning of June after several days of extensive public testimony and debate.

Petersburg’s proposed borough government would expand municipal boundaries and taxing authority over a much larger larger area. The new borough would include the cities of Petersburg and Kupreanof as well as Mitkof and Woewodski Islands, a large portion of Kupreanof Island and the mainland from LeConte Bay to Holkham Bay. Petersburg’s City government would become the borough government, while Kupreanof would remain a city within the Petersburg borough.

The city and borough of Juneau filed a competing petition seeking to annex some of the same mainland territory. Juneau’s annexation petition is still before the LBC. Staff reports on that are due out this fall and winter and the commission could vote on the Juneau petition in January.

Once the LBC mails out its written decision, it’s up to the state’s Division of Elections to arrange a public, mail-in vote for residents in the proposed borough boundaries. The voters have the final say in approving the borough and electing a new assembly. The Division has a month to set the date of the election which must be held between 30 and 90 days after it’s announced. That means the election will take place sometime in late fall or winter, unless the Boundary Commission decides to reconsider within the next 30 days.

(This article has been revised to clarify that the LBC has reaffirmed its findings that Petersburg’s borough proposal meets Alaska standards, and that the decision was made on a four to one vote)

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