Kodiak Daily Mirror - Borough Assembly discusses healthcare plans meeting decorum
  
Borough Assembly discusses healthcare plans, meeting decorum
by Julie Herrmann
Jun 23, 2014 | 98 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly introduced two ordinances — including one on meeting decorum — and approved several contracts at its regular meeting on Thursday.

The contracts included a fuel tank replacement at the Chiniak school and a healthcare plan switch for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1547. Union and nonunion borough employees will be switched to a new healthcare plan with the Alaska Electrical Health and Welfare Fund. This moves the borough away from AETNA, the state-sponsored health insurance.

Borough Manager Bud Cassidy said that the state-sponsored insurance has risen in price and is so expensive that some employees only insure themselves and not their families. AETF will be less expensive.

“There is a cost savings not only to employees but there is a significant cost savings to the borough,” Cassidy said. He added that AETF also provides superior coverage.

The first ordinance introduced regarded the Kodiak Island Housing Authority requesting that an existing residence and a newly built residence be included in their Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the borough.

The two residences are located at 2388 Beaver Lake Loop and on Fourth Avenue in Akhiok.

Borough code and state statues allow for low-income housing paid for with federal money to be exempted from taxes.

“What they pay is a lower PILT amount,” said Borough Manager Bud Cassidy.

Assembly member Mel Stephens voted no, saying he would be for it if the PILT was similar to what the taxes would be.

“I frankly do not understand the benefit to the borough in granting these exemptions,” Stephens said. “My understanding is that indeed the amount we receive from the housing authority in terms of PILT is substantially below what the tax liability would be.”

Assembly Member Aaron Griffin voted against it as well.

“I think in general I do want to incentivize housing, but I’m not sure that incentivizing it by excluding individuals from paying their property taxes is the right way to do it, no matter their income level,” Griffin said.

Griffin added that he could be for it if there was a formal agreement with KIHA about how much is paid in PILT.

Assembly members Carol Austerman and Frank Peterson Jr. agreed that housing is an issue in Kodiak, and they would be voting for the ordinance.

“The housing authority does a great job,” Peterson Jr. said. “This small incentive, I don’t think, is much. I’d like to see the numbers too, but I think it’s well worth whatever cost it is.”

The motion to move the ordinance forward to a public hearing at the next meeting passed 4-3 with Tuck Bonney, Stephens and Griffin voting against it.

The second ordinance dealt with decorum in assembly meetings. Assembly members Carol Austerman and Chris Lynch cosponsored and requested the ordinance.

“It spells out what decorum is and talks about how point of order should really work and what the roll of the chairman is in ruling on those point of order requests,” said Cassidy. “It’s an ordinance that will provide you the tools in which to run an orderly meeting.”

The motion to move the ordinance forward to public hearing passed 6-1 despite Stephens nay vote.

Stephens, who said the existing ordinance would be “a waste of time,” requested that the discussion focus on actual incidents, pulled from meeting transcripts, that have taken place where decorum was not followed, rather than focusing on conflicting memories of events.

The assembly also amended the 2014 budget to accommodate additional expenditures and move monies between projects.

Contact Julie Herrmann at jherrmann@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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