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Assembly votes to move law department

Vote is 5-3 in favor of moving over remodeling

Posted: November 26, 2013 - 1:01am

The City and Borough of Juneau Law Department will soon be on the move — to the Sealaska building.

The Assembly voted 5-3 in favor of the relocation with Assembly members Loren Jones, Jesse Kiehl and Jerry Nanverkis voting against the measure. That trio backed a proposed amendment presented by Jones that would have funded a remodel of the department’s current space, but that initiative failed along the same vote.

The passed ordinance appropriates $58,000 from the general fund to pay for the move, office furniture and the first six months of rent at the new location.

Subsequent years’ rent rates will be approximately $68,000 more per year than the city currently pays, Kiehl said.

“There’s no question additional desks have to be there — and it’s got to be more than a desk pressed against the hallway — so a remodel is sorely needed,” Kiehl said.

The cost of the remodel would have been a one-time $52,000 cost from the general fund balance.

“I appreciate the staff and the work they do and they need the space to do it, but we need to do it in the most fiscally responsible way,” Kiehl added.

Nankervis said the fiscal difference was significant for him too, and he added that he opposes separating city offices any further.

“I am a proponent of putting city staff in the same place and putting them across the street isn’t the same place,” Nankervis said. “I hate seeing the city further fragmented like that.”

Still, the opportunity to move the department to the new location at the rates available is something the majority backed.

Assemblyman Carlton Smith said he had conflict of interest with this move and recused himself.

“Those rates are 20 percent below market rates and it’s available now,” Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker said of the move. “I think we need to take advantage. The law department is too crowded and there’s just no space to work.”

A proposed ordinance that would create the CBJ Human Resources and Risk Management Department was referred to the Finance committee to be further discussed.

It comes on the heels of the city taking over the human resource responsibilities at the public Bartlett Regional Hospital.

The hospital has agreed to give the city money from its operating fund to help offset the city’s cost of expanding its human resources expenditures, City Manager Kim Kiefer said.

The Assembly also unanimously voted to change snow removal parking violations from criminal to civil penalties. The move does not change the requirements or fine amounts.

• Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/reportermatt.

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