PETERSBURG-AK City clerk Kathy O&rsquo;Rear said this week the petition now has 20 signatures from surrounding areas outside city boundaries. It needed 19. It also has 156 signatures from inside the city, which is 15 more than it needs.&nbsp; <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; O&rsquo;Rear said she has sent the petition to the city&rsquo;s borough attorney who will file it for review by the state&rsquo;s local boundary commission staff. The proposed borough includes an area of land and water about a hundred times the size of the City of Petersburg. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; According to Alaska Local Boundary Commission staffer Brent Williams, a borough petition review is an involved process and includes many steps and opportunities for public comment. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Asked about the process at this point, Williams said it&rsquo;s involved but the quick answer is &ldquo;Once we get it, we have 45 days to do a technical review. That is to make sure that all the required information is there.&rdquo; If the information is there, then they accept it for filing and there&rsquo;s a public comment period lasting several weeks. &ldquo;People get to comment on the petition. We write a report. People get to comment on that. We write a final report and there is a hearing down the road in Petersburg,&rdquo; Williams said.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The commission itself ultimately decides whether to approve the plan before it goes to the affected residents inside and outside the city for a public vote. The whole process typically takes at least a year.&nbsp; <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The city&rsquo;s effort&rsquo;s efforts to revise the borough plan and gather enough signatures over the past year have been contentious. The plan includes a four-mill property tax on outlying areas to support local schools. Proponents say being part of a borough would provide more revenue and give area residents more say over land and resource issues, things like road or hydro-power development, within the broader borough boundaries. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Borough opponents have been vocal as well. The City Council for the small, nearby community of Kupreanof and other critics have raised concerns over the potential for increased government regulation and the imposition of property taxes in newly incorporated areas where few services are available.
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