Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Bill Roberts initiated a conversation on borough assembly travel ahead of Assembly Member Scott Arndt’s travel to Juneau for the Alaska Municipal League Winter Legislative Conference, scheduled between Feb. 18-20. Arndt requested to extend his trip by two nights, adding an additional cost of $306 to the trip.
“There seems to be some confusion as to what is required for assembly members to travel,” Roberts said.
He said it’s common practice for assembly members and borough staff to travel to meetings and training events the day before they begin, rather than traveling overnight, so they can be well rested and productive. However, adding an additional day is unusual.
Arndt purchased his airfare independently, despite the requirement that all borough-related travel be completed through the borough clerk’s office.
With the added days, Arndt will arrive in Juneau on Sunday and leave on Saturday, for a conference scheduled from Tuesday to Thursday.
“This is strictly for business,” Arndt said. “I’ve had problems getting into and out of Juneau, and so I chose to go down Sunday to make sure that I’m there.”
Arndt said that in case his travel is not interrupted, he hopes to use the additional day ahead of the conference to meet with legislators to promote borough interests. Arndt added that he intends to use the additional day at the tail-end of the conference to advocate for borough causes.
“I’m taking a week of my time, and I’m trying to make it as productive as I possibly can for the Kodiak Island Borough,” Arndt said. “It’s a win-win.”
Assembly Member Duane Dvorak noted that the borough already pays for a state lobbyist to represent the borough agenda in Juneau. In response, Assembly Member Rebecca Skinner said that appearing in person in front of legislators can be more effective.
“Since we don’t have a Juneau legislative trip planned otherwise for the assembly, I can support Scott going down for this whole week,” said Skinner. “Particularly if the borough has a position that we’re trying to advocate down there, seeing somebody from the assembly is very different from seeing the lobbyists.”
Borough code states that assembly members traveling as borough representatives must bring their travel requests to regular assembly meetings or work sessions. However, Borough Manager Michael Powers said that policy hasn’t been strictly enforced recently.
“It’s part of the process that we just generally have not done formally in the past,” he said.
The motion to approve Arndt’s travel plans was approved 6-1, with Assembly Member Julie Kavanaugh the only one opposed.
“It just seems an unusual extension of time,” she said. “Even if there is money in the budget, I’m not a believer in spending our money unnecessarily.”