The Petersburg borough still plans to offer a self-pay paving option for some neighborhood streets this year. The borough assembly Monday continued with changes to an ordinance for a Local Improvement District. That’s an existing process in borough law that allows residents to petition for a new service like water, sewer, electricity or, in this case, paved streets, if residents in an area agree to pay the cost of that project. The assembly approved the second reading of changes to that local law.

Public Works Director Karl Hagerman reported that some local residents are interested in pursuing the paving this year. “I haven’t had anybody specifically talk to me but I have heard words through folks in my office that there are some residents interested in pursuing the paving LID once the code provision is re-written,” Hagerman told the assembly. “Don’t know what kind of percentage that is of the overall affected population but there is some interest.”
The borough wants to offer Local Improvement District paving to a number of neighborhoods while the company Secon still has its asphalt plant in town. Some on the borough assembly have had concerns about the concept, because approval of the project requires a yes vote from 66 percent of home owners in a neighborhood. Assembly member Jeigh Stanton-Gregor said he likes the 66 percent threshold and compared that to the margin of victory for town-wide public construction votes in the past.

But mayor Mark Jensen still had concerns about a local homeowner being forced to pay for something. “I didn’t vote in favor of this in first reading, I still have a little bit of concern with someone in a neighborhood that can’t afford it if the rest of the people in their neighborhood want it and they vote to move ahead with the paving project that could cost somebody money they don’t have, so I still have a little problem with that but like Kurt (Wohlhueter) said we can stop that down the road.”

The process for creating a Local Improvement District is a long one, including a public hearing and chances for the borough assembly to cancel a project. The changes to the L-I-D ordinance have one more reading before the assembly and then the borough plans to send out letters to homeowners that could seek paving this year.

In other business, the assembly approved a capital projects priority list. The list of major public works, new buildings and equipment is used to seek state and federal funding. This year there’s not much hope among local leaders for state funding given the Alaska’s budget crisis. However, top priorities are a one point six million dollar food service project in the schools, a four million dollar boat yard in Scow Bay and a 33 million dollar renovation of the Petersburg Medical Center. Also on the list are renovation of the dam at the City Creek reservoir, renovation of the Power and Light building, design work for new museum space, lighting at the community pool and equipment for handling the recycled materials collected in town.

Assembly member Kurt Wohlhueter did not think it was important to rank priorities. “In the past it’s never been in any particular order, it’s just whatever funds are available at the time they just get put into different slots so,” Wohlhueter said. “We could rate ‘em but it doesn’t do any good.”

The assembly approved that capital project list unanimously. They also approved spending 54-thousand dollars to repair the foundation of the portico at the entrance of the Mountain View Manor’s assisted living facility. And the assembly voted to spend just over 97-thousand dollars for a new back-up diesel generator.