Three potential changes to the charter for the Petersburg borough are one step closer to going before voters this October.
The charter is the founding document for the local government, approved by residents in late 2012. Any changes to it also need voter approval.
Petersburg’s borough assembly last night approved the second of three readings for ordinances to advance those proposals.
“For those listening at home, the somewhat dry language around these, all three of these ordinances and clerk Thompson as always correct me if I’m missing are more or less housing keeping items or things we’re already doing to make sure that the charter is consistent,” explained vice mayor Jeigh Stanton Gregor.
One change will ask voters whether to remove a requirement for a tax-supported service area to offer any water, sewer, electrical or garbage collection outside of the old city limits. That’s if it’s requested and paid for by a property owner.
The charter currently requires formation of a service area, approved by residents in that area for many basic government functions. Within service area one, or the old city limits, property taxes are higher and that money supports some government functions. The charter language aims to ensure the local government has some money coming in to support the cost of doing business.
However, the borough’s utilities are not supported by taxes; for the most part the revenue from customers pays the bills. And a number of those utilities already offer service to customers on Mitkof Island who pay a fee. That includes connection to the electrical grid, garbage and sewer collection and drinking water deliveries for remote residents.
Another change deals with conflict of interest rulings for people serving on some elected boards and commissions. Going by the charter language, those decisions should be sent to the borough assembly. The proposal would keep that decision among the borough’s advisory boards and the planning commission if voters approve it.
A third change has to do with auction of borough property. People serving on local boards and commissions as well as borough employees can’t bid on borough property if it’s sold by outcry auction. They can if it’s by sealed bid. It’s an issue that came up during the most recent sale of borough land last month.
The assembly will have one more reading of these proposals next month. At the moment they’re the only questions on the October ballot.
They’re not the first changes to Petersburg’s borough charter. That was in 2017 when voters agreed to let the city of Kupreanof own and operate a harbor.