The Petersburg Borough Assembly passed its final budget for the fiscal year 2024 in the regular meeting on June 5th. It also passed four other ordinances in their first readings, and two more in their first. 

The fiscal year 2024 budget had full support from the Assembly in its latest and final reading, and passed with one final amendment. The Assembly voted to set the property insurance in the budget to the amount of $48,800 — a 30% increase over last year.

They also voted in a 6% increase on public sewer utility rates, which went into effect immediately after it passed. 

The Assembly also amended the Municipal Code to limit the residential use of boats in the public harbors. Now, no more than ten percent of the moorage spaces in the harbors may be used by live-aboard vessels during the peak season — from May through October. The change also means that boaters can no longer use their vessels as a vacation rental or bed & breakfast.

The Assembly also passed an ordinance authorizing the harbormaster to enforce local traffic and parking laws at the harbor facilities.

Then, the Assembly passed an ordinance adding federally-recognized Tribes to the list of entities that can buy Borough property for less than its assessed value — that’s if the Borough determines that allowing them to do so can benefit the public. 

Tribal Council President Cris Morrison testified that the Tribe is pursuing a housing development project. She said the funding from the project could help PIA and the citizens of Petersburg by generating funds that could be used to build PIA programs that aren’t tied to grant funding. She said the project could also help with the local housing crisis. 

“The project will benefit the citizens of Petersburg by providing some relief with regard to the current housing shortage,” said Morrison. “It will also positively impact Petersburg’s ability to maintain or increase its local labor pool.”

In its first item of new business, the Assembly voted to bring in a third party to investigate the Borough’s hiring practices and safety procedures. In April, the Assembly considered an ordinance to hire an independent specialist to review the Borough’s hiring procedures. The investigation concerns a 2016 car wreck that killed two borough employees and injured two others. 

The Assembly received proposals from two different contractors – Beacon and Alaska Public Entity Insurance, or “APEI.” The Borough chose APEI’s proposal, which includes a review of existing safety and training programs, with special attention to job safety analysis for driving positions. The company would not charge for these services. APEI expects that it will be able to deliver its findings to the Borough within 60 days.

Finally, the Assembly passed an ordinance to create a new borough position. The position would help Utility Director Karl Hagerman transition out of his current role and into retirement.  The position is salaried at about $105,000, and is intended to help retain institutional knowledge when Hagerman retires.