The Petersburg Borough Assembly will hold five public hearings during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. on May 15th. In the upcoming meeting, the assembly is seeking public feedback on hiking utility rates and raising the fines for creating wake in the public harbors.

The public hearings are about five ordinances the Assembly approved in their first readings in early May. One is for a proposed 6% increase on public sewer utility rates. The Assembly unanimously approved this ordinance in its first reading. 

The Assembly will also hear comments about a proposed change to the Petersburg Municipal Code on residential use of boats in the public harbors. If adopted, no more than ten percent of the moorage spaces in the harbors may be utilized at any one time by live-aboard vessels from May through October — except at the discretion of Petersburg’s Harbormaster, Gloria Wollen.

The change would also prohibit renting out vessels in the harbor for residential purposes on either a short- or long-term basis. This would effectively ban using boats as a vacation rental or bed & breakfast. The ordinance would not prevent overnight lodging on short-term passenger ships as part of a cruise. 

Finally, the ordinance would also increase the penalty for speeding and excessive wake around the harbors from $50 to $200. The ordinance was unanimously approved in its first reading. 

The Assembly will also take public comments on a budget for fiscal year 2024. In an April 24th budget work session, the Assembly decided on a $1.5 million increase over last year. A million of that is earmarked for Petersburg’s schools — the Petersburg School District is asking for a budget increase of a million dollars to offset a major shortfall from last year, and to ensure local schools can continue regular programming. The budget was unanimously approved in its first reading. 

The public can also give testimony on an ordinance that would authorize the harbormaster to enforce local traffic and parking laws at the Borough’s harbor facilities. It would also establish a $25 penalty for parking violations in Petersburg’s harbors. This ordinance was unanimously approved in its first reading.

The Assembly will also take public feedback  on an ordinance that would allow federally-recognized Tribes, state and federal agencies, and nonprofits to buy Borough property for less than its assessed value — if the Borough determines that allowing them to do so is in the best interest of the public. The Assembly unanimously approved the ordinance to move forward after its first reading. 

Also at the meeting, the Assembly will hear a report from the Borough’s Housing Task Force. Assembly Member and chair of the group Housing Task Force Chair Dave Kensinger will update the Assembly on the roll out of the Housing Needs Assessment Survey.

The Assembly will address two items of new business in this meeting. One is setting the millage rate — or, the amount of tax payable per dollar for the assessed value of a property. If approved, the ordinance will set next year’s mill rate inside Service Area 1 at 10.84 mills and the mill rate outside Service Area 1 at 4.2 mills.

Finally, the Assembly will complete its first reading of an ordinance to replace the Borough’s alternate representative for the Southeast Alaska Solid Waste Authority. The current representative for the group, Karl Hagerman, who is also the Borough’s Utility Director, requested that the Assembly appoint Sanitation Supervisor Aaron Marohl.

Petersburg’s Borough Assembly will meet at 6 p.m. on May 15th in the Assembly Chambers. KFSK will broadcast that meeting live and post the recording in the Assembly Archives. Anyone from the community can join the meeting in person, by phone, or on Zoom. 

Also on May 15th, tune in to KFSK at 12:30 p.m. for Borough Business, a call-in program featuring local assembly members. There’s more information on KFSK’s community calendar.