The presentation was the final briefing from Kodiak’s delegation before they depart to Juneau for the Jan. 17 start of the legislative session. It followed a similar presentation Wednesday to the Kodiak City Council.
“I think it’s going to be a fairly decent capital project budget this year,” predicted Austerman, who has said election years tend to generate more local spending.
The top local spending issue is the governor’s proposed $350 million state bond to pay for port projects across Alaska. No Kodiak Island project was included in the bond proposal, which calls for $200 million to the billion-dollar Port of Anchorage project and another $110 million for a rail spur to a Mat-Su port.
Austerman said the governor has indicated he would accept additions to the bond, including money to replace Kodiak’s Pier 3, in order to “protect” the money that would go to Anchorage.
There’s likely to be a limit on how much the governor is willing to let the bond grow, however.
“Obviously, the Legislature can build that bond up until it’s unacceptable to the governor, and his choice is to veto the whole thing or let it go to the people,” Austerman said.
“Every big and small community has concerns,” he said, “but we can’t go too far with it, as Alan says, or the governor could veto it.”
Borough Mayor Jerome Selby asked about the governor’s proposed elimination of more than 200 vacant positions within state government, an attempt to balance the jobs created when the new Goose Creek state prison begins operating.
Stevens said because those jobs were vacant, there should be minimal effect on Kodiak. Selby asked that the two men stay on guard to ensure seasonal positions, such as those needed to operate river weirs to count fish, are not eliminated as well.
“They’ve done that before, and we had to fight to get that money back,” Selby said.
Borough assembly member Mel Stephens asked whether Senate Bill 97, which could increase state oil revenue sharing with cities and boroughs, will pass. Stevens replied that it’s too early to tell, and the formula called for under that bill could be changed.
Stevens and Austerman also said they have been fielding a growing number of public comments requesting to name the new Fish and Game building under construction on Near Island. They suggested the borough and city coordinate on a naming contest and settle on a choice.
“Otherwise we could just pass it through legislation,” Stevens said.
He had one idea for the borough assembly: “I suggest you choose somebody who’s dead. They’re less likely to get in trouble later.”
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at email@example.com.