The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly rejected a resolution on Thursday to redefine the scope of the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group, a joint body between itself and the city of Kodiak.
The resolution originally arose from the March 3 joint workshop between the Kodiak City Council and the borough assembly. The work group, which includes members from both the council and assembly, discusses and responds to federal and state fisheries management policies that affect the Kodiak fishing community.
At that meeting, both groups proposed to eliminate a fisheries analyst contract that had been utilized since 2018, as well as to redefine the work group’s meeting schedule to twice a year.
The original intent was for the committee to suspend meetings during the summer fishing season — mid-May through September — to accommodate the island’s fishers.
The city council had already passed its version of the resolution at its March 25 meeting, but it got some pushback at the borough assembly on Thursday.
The city’s representatives to the work group are council members John Whiddon and Terry Haines, while assembly members Julie Kavanaugh and Geoff Smith represent the borough.
Kavanaugh on Thursday disagreed with the meeting frequency.
“I think setting the bar at twice a year for meetings is too low,” Kavanaugh said. “My recommendation was to halt meetings during the summer fishing season. … I wasn’t part of the decision-making and didn’t get any feedback on this more restrictive meeting schedule.”
Kavanaugh had originally voiced her concern about meeting frequency at the March 3 joint session, though she did agree at the time that cutting the fish analyst contract was a solid cost-cutting measure, as it had been unnecessary.
Assembly Member James Turner, whose career is at Ocean Beauty Seafoods, agreed with Kavanaugh.
“I think there should be more meetings added to this particular group and am in favor of changing this resolution at some point to reflect that,” Turner said.
Assembly Member Scott Arndt disagreed, noting nothing prevented the work group from meeting more than twice a year.
“It’s setting a minimum, not saying what it will be (for meeting times),” Arndt said. “I feel it’s up to the committee and the people that are on it to determine when they want to meet and how many meetings they want to have.”
Arndt called the debate “arguing over minuscule detail” and said some people might prefer more meetings or less. He reminded the assembly that the city had already passed its own version of the resolution.
“It’s going to change year to year,” Arndt said. “This (resolution) is a good beginning, so I don’t see a problem with letting go.”
The resolution failed in a 1-6 vote, with only Arndt supporting it.
The assembly also finalized a process to create a cooperative committee with the city of Kodiak by appointing three of its members. The borough originally adopted a resolution at its May 20 regular meeting.
The concept of the committee arose from the March 3 work session.
According to a May 20 borough manager’s report, the committee serves as an additional way to work with the city on items of mutual interest, and “that they share similar relationships with a number of public and private organizations for which coordination between the two governments would likely be beneficial.”
“Increased cooperation and coordination between the legislative bodies of the City and Borough would likely improve the efficiency of public services and reduce costs to the taxpayers of both entities,” the report states.
The city had already approved its own version of the resolution and appointed council members Terry Haines, Bob Stanford and John Whiddon to one-year terms ending in December.
Borough Mayor Bill Roberts appointed assembly members Kavanaugh, Aimee Williams and Geoff Smith to the committee.
Some assembly members did not support the concept of a collaborative committee, including Turner, who saw it as a duplication of efforts.
Turner noted the joint work sessions serve that purpose, but added those joint work sessions have occurred only infrequently in the last two years.
“I think we as an assembly need to meet with the city as often as possible to discuss items together as a group,” Turner said.
Roberts ultimately appointed the committee members with an assembly approval 5-2, with Turner and Arndt voting no.