May 11, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Category: Letters to the Editor
Created on Monday, 11 May 2020 16:12
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Maintain Quarantine

Dear Editor: Sunday I sent this message to all City and Borough Assembly members. Please let your voices be heard.

Please, please maintain 14-day quarantine for all travelers arriving from out of state and any Alaskan cities with active community transmission. We’re not lucky to have avoided an outbreak in Sitka: we are benefiting from the actions you’ve taken. Don’t screw it up.

Pete Roddy, Sitka

 

Rate Hikes

Dear Editor: During emergencies, while preoccupied with survival, citizens still need to keep an eye on government. Are Sitkans aware, for instance, of the major rate increases recently approved? I don’t intend to disparage our Assembly, they’re doing the best they can in these difficult times, but the public has been absent at these virtual meetings. Without citizen involvement something can easily go wrong in our representative government.

At the last meeting the Assembly approved a 2% increase in electric rates, a 2% increase in water rates, a 2% increase in wastewater rates, and a 5.5% increase in solid waste rates. They also considered a 5.5% increase in moorage rates but held off final approval till Tuesday’s meeting. Although most Assembly members agreed that a 5% annual increase in moorage is unsustainable their stated intention was to approve it.  

The City of Sitka is currently engaged in the expensive and questionable replacement of Crescent Harbor. The moorage rate increases are intended to fund the also questionable Sitka Harbor Master Plan. The Master Plan is based on a 30-year replacement schedule of infrastructure. Thirty years isn’t the actual life span of a well-built harbor. It is the life span of a harbor’s amortization (write off) schedule, however.

In the case of Crescent Harbor much of the infrastructure being replaced isn’t even close to 30 years old. Quoting from a copy of the Sitka Harbor System Master Plan on Crescent Harbor; “A repair project occurred in 2002 which replaced approximately 50% of the finger floats in stalls on floats 1, 2, and 3. The electrical system was renovated in 2005.” Because of COVID 19 the library was closed and I wasn’t able to do more research on previous Crescent Harbor infrastructure replacement but many of the discarded pilings were also in excellent shape.

The City raised moorage rates at that time to pay for these renovations. Now we’ve ripped out those 17-year-old floats and the 14-year-old electric system and who knows how much other recently replaced infrastructure. With the fishing industry, one of Sitka’s economic pillars, already in a depression, the Sitka Harbor Master Plan and it’s perpetual annual moorage rate increases not only seems ill advised but economic suicide.

The Assembly is addressing moorage rate increases at Tuesday’s meeting. You can sign up to make a Public Comment during the Assembly meeting by calling 747-1826 before 4 p.m. Tuesday. Call in and participate in the Virtual Assembly Meeting. Talk about whether another “unsustainable” annual moorage rate increase is a good idea.

 

Matthew Donohoe, Sitka