Assembly considers 'empowered' pool board

Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The majority of Assembly members said they weren't in favor of an empowered pool management board. Then they voted to draft a charter amendment necessary for its creation.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

The 5-4 vote during Monday's work session means the measure will go before the full assembly at a later date. In the meantime, city attorney John Hartle was asked to prepare the charter amendment necessary for the board.

The issue at hand was whether to create an advisory board, which would make recommendations but have no power, for management of the existing Augustus Brown pool and the new Dimond Park Aquatic Center once it opens early next year, or to have an empowered board, which would require a charter amendment and go to the public for a vote in the fall.

The advantage of an empowered board, say its proponents, include greater efficiencies, money saving and marketing ability.

Opponents of the idea say it would fragment power unnecessarily and could lead to problems. Many Assembly members said they might vote in favor of a strong advisory board.

"The more individual citizens we have in our government, the better off we are," Assembly member Merrill Sanford said prior to voting for the motion. "The people who want to be involved are a bunch of professional people. They want to do a good job for the pool system as a whole."

Deputy Mayor Randy Wanamaker and Sanford voted for the measure, saying they favor an empowered board, though Sanford also said a strong advisory board may work.

Assembly members Jeff Bush, David Stone and Ruth Danner voted for the drafted charter amendment, though they said ultimately they were in favor of starting out with an advisory board.

"This is only a recommendation to the full Assembly," Bush said, saying he preferred a strong advisory board.

Assembly members Jonathan Anderson, Bob Doll, Johan Dybdahl and Mayor Bruce Botelho voted against the measure and said they are against an empowered board.

Dybdahl said he thinks the idea is premature; Anderson cited concerns about fragmentation of government and not having coordination at the city manager's level, which he said has created problems in the past.

"We have a city manager we pay a great deal of money to, and in whom we have a great deal of confidence," said Doll. "I see no reason why we should (create an empowered board.) There's nothing exotic about this."

Botelho said he was concerned both about the dispersion of executive power and about the wisdom of elevating one particular aspect of Parks and Recreation above the others.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee considered the matter in February and said while it believes a board is currently unnecessary, it would support an advisory board.

The full Assembly will consider the matter again once Hartle has drafted the amendment.

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