Petersburg Borough Assembly listens to Manager Steve Giesbrecht during a regular meeting, Nov. 6, 2017. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

The Petersburg Borough Assembly started the process of approving budget changes for the current fiscal year at their meeting this week. Part of that includes more money for the remodel of the Power and Light building. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:

Before the assembly voted on any budget changes they heard an update on the Power and Light remodel project.

Public Works Director, Karl Hagerman, told the assembly that back in 2015, when the Power and Light remodel project was approved it was very bare bones and didn’t include things it should have. He says it was designed to comply with the American with Disabilities Act and energy efficiency but a lot was missing.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of thought about this being the long term headquarters of the department,” Hagerman said. “There were areas that were left out of the remodel design completely. And we’re seeing now that the contractor has done some demo that may not have been the best decision at the time.”

Hagerman says old plan has part of the building new while other parts would go untouched, like carpet in the Office Managers office the Superintendent’s which is failing.

The department is requesting a change order of $26,590.

“So there are various things that, in my opinion, that should be included in the project,” he said. “We’ve got a contractor on site, now is the time to do it. So we’re talking flooring, removing paneling, wood paneling in favor of sheet rock that will help out with insulation in the walls of those offices as well and redoing the ceiling. We’re also looking at other things in the reception area.”

Assemblyman Jeigh Stanton Gregor asked Hagerman why these basic improvements were not included in the initial plan. Hagerman responded by saying that back then they had thought of it as a temporary project.

“Previous Superintendent Nelson really cut back on any possibility of it being any kind of a grandiose project whatsoever,” Hagerman said, “and that included leaving his office out of the project completely.”

Assemblyman Kurt Wohlhueter supported the idea of putting more Power and Light money into the project.

“I think this was just going to be a temporary fix because long term was always going to move everything out to Scow Bay,” Wohlhueter said. “This is sounding more like this is probably going to have to be here for a while now because of state funding so I think this is a small price to pay to bring it up to the next 30 years.”

Rainforest Contracting is doing the remodel work on the Power and Light building. Hagerman says the demolition of the upstairs and downstairs is pretty much complete. There’s some sheet rock and new framing in the downstairs. They are working on excavating the parking area to put in a new retaining wall.

Another proposed budget change before the assembly adds $39,500 for recruiting a Superintendent for Petersburg Municipal Power and Light.

Assemblyman, Eric Castro, spoke about the issue during a KFSK call-in show before the meeting.

“We’re definitely looking for the most qualified applicant,” Castro said. “It takes money to find that person. We aren’t always fortunate enough to have them living in the same towns. In this case we’re going to go out and try to recruit across the nation.”

Like the remodel money, the recruiting money is coming from the Power and Light budget and not from the general fund or taxes collected.

Another budget change reflects the police department decreasing its force by one officer because the State of Alaska has stopped paying for a security officer at the airport.

The assembly passed the budget change ordinance in its first reading.

Also at the regular meeting, the assembly approved a resolution that accepts $56,000 in federal homeland security grant money to install two all-hazard warning sirens to increase the ability to reach a larger geographic area.

The borough’s Fire and EMS Director, Sandy Dixson, told the assembly where the two sirens would be located.

“We have one of them slated to be at the ball field near the skating rink that Chandra agreed to. And we’re going to try to use the same Power and Light pole that they’re going to put lighting on,” Dixson said. “And then one Bayview Estates area so hopefully it will pick up the Scow Bay people.”

Assembly supported keeping things pretty much as they are in regards to what counts as a quorum and what doesn’t. They approved an ordinance that updates current language to reflect borough incorporation regarding voting and quorum requirements.

Also at the meeting, the assembly voted on a new Vice Mayor and other elected representatives.

The group voted Jeigh Stanton Gregor as Vice Mayor.

Mayor Mark Jensen was elected as the Representative to the Alaska Municipal League and the Southeast Conference.

Kurt Wohlheuter continues as the Liaison to the Harbor Board.

Jeigh Stanton Gregor continues as the Liaison to the Hospital Board.

Nancy Strand is the Liaison to the Public Safety Board.

Eric Castro is the Liaison to the Lands Selection Committee.

And Jeff Meucci is appointed Liaison to the Local Emergency Planning Committee.