As the consolidation committee continues its work, the City of Kodiak has formally backed out of participation just when their participation is most needed.
The committee has reached a point in the process where cooperation and information from both governments are paramount. Specific questions about budget expenses, revenues, staffing and function are in need of answering.
Our first loss of representation came from a pullback of manager Mike Tvenge’s participation as his role as Emergency Operations Center director expanded. I felt the committee was certainly understanding and supportive of his need to prioritize his limited time.
What I was not expecting was a letter dated September 10, signed by the entire city council and mayor, indicating that they would not be reappointing a council member to serve on the committee.
This unfortunate decision comes at a most inopportune time as the committee seeks to move forward with exploring the possibilities of consolidation.
Even more concerning is the information in the letter that is patently false. In reference to the committee, it is stated that “there is still no report and no end game plan.”
There certainly is a plan; the plan is available on the borough website — it is referred to as the “work plan by task.” This plan was adopted at the beginning of our work together and has guided the process all along, and it will guide us to the conclusion or dissolution of the committee.
I feel that there is an overall opposition from the city to the idea of consolidation. There are anecdotal murmurings that the city is making it difficult to access information we need, especially in the area of budget and staff expenses. Whether this is intentional or simply the result of the city pulling out of formal representation on the committee I cannot say.
At the July 21 work session, Julie Kavanaugh made a presentation to the city council on behalf of the consolidation committee.
Terry Haines stated in that meeting that the consolidation committee was engaged in a process and making decisions that we were “not qualified to make.” This is a stunning statement, as it implies that the citizens of a community are not qualified to establish how we will be governed.
The seven elected representative of the city of Kodiak have concluded that the city of Kodiak will not participate in the process that the citizen of the city of Kodiak and the Kodiak Island Borough tasked us to undertake. This is truly a disappointing decision that only impedes and delays the already difficult task we have set out to see through to completion.
We are exploring consolidation with three guiding principles:
1. Provide more effective representation.
2. Streamline government services, productivity and accountability.
3. Realize a financial cost savings to the extent practicable.
At this time, I personally cannot tell you if consolidation will meet all of those goals. I can tell you that at this place in the process, the city’s choice of abandoning the process is most ill timed.
Consolidation Committee member