Assembly to hold meetings every three weeks, not two

Randy Wanamaker elected deputy mayor

Posted: Friday, October 21, 2005

The Juneau Assembly munched on sandwiches, reviewed priorities for next year and elected Randy Wanamaker as deputy mayor during a Thursday night retreat.

Eight members, with Merrill Sanford absent, huddled in a circle and flipped through a six-page spreadsheet that contains goals and objectives the city will undertake in the new fiscal year.

"It's our to-do list," Mayor Bruce Botelho said.

It was the first chance for newcomers Bob Doll, areawide seat, and Jonathan Anderson, District 2, to put their views on the table. The two are replacing former Deputy Mayor Marc Wheeler and Stan Ridgeway, both of whom decided not to run for re-election.

Wanamaker is entering his fifth year with the Assembly and is also the panel's senior member.

Their first order of business was approving the calendar, usually a ho-hum ritual, except this year city clerk Laurie Sica suggested the Assembly meet every third week, instead of every two.

Assembly goals 2005-06

Promote a growing economy:

• Revise strategy for construction of a Mendenhall Valley community center.

• Review plans for affordable housing development.

• Review cruise ship trade practices.

• Examine annexation to ideal Juneau boundaries.

Improve Juneau as regional center and capital city:

• Revise strategies for a new or renovated airport terminal/parking.

• Continue promotion of a new capitol in Juneau.

• Encourage marine highway system to establish a "constituent fare."

• Develop strategies for legislative housing.

Improve local "quality of life":

• Review off-road vehicle use.

• Identify site for performing arts center.

Enhancing Juneau local government:

• Conduct status review of prejudice in Juneau.

• Review all emergency plans.

"It would give the staff more time to prepare for the meetings," Sica said.

The vote of approval was unanimous. Assembly members agreed they needed more face time in committees before they vote on issues.

More public comments can be taken on issues by extending the committee schedule, with the public free to speak at those sessions. The new calendar will move certain committees to the Mondays the Assembly and the Committee of the Whole do not meet.

Peterson said having fewer meetings could slow down the legislation, but he saw more good than harm in the proposal and approved it.

"If it doesn't work, we can always change it," Doll said. "It's worth a try."

Many of the group's new objectives pertain to the projects voters approved in this month's election for the use of a one percent sales tax.

Committees will discuss the order of funding the projects within the next few weeks.

Considering it will take the city a while to collect the taxes, city manager Rod Swope said he will recommend starting with the shortest and cheapest project - the Eaglecrest Ski Area chairlift.

"Every year that Eaglecrest doesn't have the lift is lost revenue for the city," he said.

At best, it will be ready next winter if the city starts spending money for a consultant and the equipment, Swope said.

Sewer extensions in Lemon Creek and Douglas should be next so that affordable housing development can start. The larger construction projects, such as the downtown parking garage and improvements to the Don Statter Boat Harbor, would be last, Swope said.

Because merchants along South Franklin Street are crying foul over on-board marketing tricks, the Assembly will review cruise ship trade practices, Botelho said.

Other goals include encouraging the state to establish a "constituent fare" for those traveling to Juneau by ferry to attend Legislature meetings.

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