The Petersburg Borough Assembly voted to purchase new meter equipment to use in the Middle and South Harbors. The assembly supported several other measures during their last meeting as well. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:

The assembly approved $111,932.46 for new meters in two of the town’s harbors. The meters allow Petersburg Municipal Power and Light workers to remotely read customers electrical usage without walking the docks. The North Harbor already has these meters installed there and the borough is purchasing the same equipment from EATON Corporation for Middle and South Harbors.

In a letter to the borough, Utility Director, Karl Hagerman, said they’ve been “very pleased” with the meter system already in place and that the meters are “highly successful”. The utility had budgeted $115,000 for the new meters.

Mayor Mark Jensen spoke in favor of the purchase.

“I think it’s a good request,” he said. “I think we’ve used the company before to do the tests of meters and you could read them remotely. It would be nice to be able to do that in the whole harbor.”

The meter order passed unanimously.

Also at the meeting the assembly unanimously supported sending a letter to the state against the proposed winter schedule for the Alaska Marine Highway Systems ferries.

The letter was drafted by Mayor Jensen.

“I think their plan is fairly inadequate,” Jensen said.  

Jensen said the borough had only four days to respond to the ferry schedule proposal—they had received a letter for comment on August 10th and the deadline was the 14th. And he said there were other problems with the plan.

“The ferries coming to Petersburg, the Kennicott in one instance, I believe would be dependent on tides,” Jensen said. “Well, since the ferry system was built in the 60s, there were tide books, and I just thought it was kind of…I couldn’t believe they said it would be dependent on tides.”

The assembly also supported sending a letter to Alaska’s Congressional Delegation about Petersburg’s Covid situation. The letter was drafted by assembly member, Chelsea Tremblay, and states that the Petersburg Borough will run out of Cares Act funding by the end of 2020 if not sooner. It requests continued financial support that is flexible in nature for Petersburg to respond to many local needs. The assembly unanimously approved the letter without discussing it.

The assembly also voted to hire attorney Sarah Fine to be the moderator for an upcoming community meeting on an emergency law for the borough. The proposed ordinance authorizes the manager, incident commander, and assembly to respond to civil emergencies. It would update the current law and outlines possible measures like curfews, business closures or prohibitions on public gatherings. The existing local law authorizes the manager to implement an emergency plan but it does not spell out specific measures. 

The community forum is scheduled for September 10 at 4 p.m.