Kake Tribal Corp. gets back on track

Posted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Struggling Kake Tribal Corp. has a new board of directors for the first time in five years.

The corporation's board met at the Kake Community Hall Saturday, filling all nine seats on its board of directors, after having been unable to meet for several years due to financial difficulties, said Steve Malin, Kake CEO.

The corporation, which has offices in Kake and Juneau, will have a board of directors meeting in Juneau later this week to select officers. Current chairman Harold P. Martin was one of the top vote getters in Saturday's voting.

This year's board meeting almost didn't happen, Malin said. It had originally been scheduled for June, when it became clear attendance would not have met the 50 percent threshold allowing election of new board members.

The June meeting was canceled, and corporation staff set out trying to update their shareholder lists so then could get adequate proxies or attendance to have a meeting.

One of the reasons previous years' meetings had been canceled is they didn't have audited financial statements to review due to the corporations' dire straits.

"Those are very expensive, having audits done, and we didn't have the funds to do it," Malin said.

This year, with the finances improving, Kake Tribal is nearly caught up on its annual audits, he said.

An annual meeting is required every year by the corporation's bylaws, Malin acknowledged, but said that Kake Tribal had simply been unable to hold one until this year.

Among the bright spots reported at Saturday's meetings was Kake Tribal subsidiary Kwaan Construction's profitable work on Coeur Alaska's Kensington Gold Mine, he said.

"They partnered with Alaska Interstate Construction, one of the state's largest mining contractors, and did some real beautiful work there," Malin said of Kwaan.

Resource sharing payments from other Native Corporations, know as 7(i) payments, are down but remain an important source of revenue for Kake, he said.

In other areas Kake Tribal sees potential improvement in the future, he said.

It is working to get Small Business Administration 8(a) certification for two of its subsidiaries, Kwaan Construction and Kwaan Wireless, that will enable them to obtain sole source contracts from the federal government.

Kake Tribal is also exploring development of a data center on Annette Island in conjunction with the Metlakatla Indian Community after developing the area's hydroelectric power.

Kake Tribal also owns operations in Pelican though it recently lost its interest in the Pelican Seafood plant when its owner lost it to foreclosure due to back taxes. Kake hopes to contest that, Malin said.

Kake also owns Pelican Utilities, which has been losing money, but consultants must be hired to do a "rate study" before new rates will be approved by the state, he said.

"It had gone many years without a rate increase because it's so darned expensive to do a $30,000 rate study when you only have 60 customers," he said.

Malin said he hopes to have a new rate study completed and new rates in the next year.

The new board has four new board members, with five members remaining. One board member had resigned since the last election, but had been unable to be replaced due to the lack of an annual meeting. After Saturday's voting the board is now at its full membership.

Board terms are three years, but all terms had expired since the last meeting.

"We hadn't had an election for so long we had to elect all nine," Malin said.

The top three vote-getters receive three-year terms, the next three vote-getters get two-year terms and the final three are picked for one year.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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