Juneau Utility Commission To Be Restructured

1/11/12 – The Juneau Common Council approved an ordinance last night that restructures the city’s publicly-owned Utility Commission. The change comes after every other elected and appointed city official received an 18% reduction in annual salary and per-meeting stipends. The council voted last year for the pay decreases but chose to exempt the Utility Commission, which is city-owned but self-sustaining using virtually no tax dollars. The exemption drew heavy criticism from Mayor Ron Bosak who said commissioners were not being “team players” in these tough economic times. The ordinance approved last night on a 4 to 2 vote will reduce the number of citizen commissioners from five to three and they will serve staggered three-year terms. Two alderpersons with voting powers will also sit on the commission in one-year terms along with the mayor who will only vote to break a tie.

Shortly after the meeting adjourned, the mayor was given three resignation letters from the remaining Utility Commissioners. He says he was very disappointed with the resignations and said he was sick and tired of personnel vendettas. Bosak says the restructuring was not a personal matter and he was just doing his job. Bosak says he is 100% excited to get the new commission going and plans to call a special meeting in the next week to appoint five new commissioners. Alderwoman Roxanne Buss has been tabbed for one seat and Bosak says he will announce the other alderman shortly. While he has asked recently-resigned Commissioner Paul Marose to consider rejoining, Bosak says he has no plans to reappoint longtime Commission President Dan Wegner.

Finance Committee Chair Robert Affled, who is challenging Bosak in the April election, says he was not pleased with the outcome and there was no reason to change just for the sheer point of making change. When asked if he’d push to overturn the restructuring if elected mayor, Affled said “he doesn’t know at this time.” In related action last night, the council approved an ordinance that eliminates the Utilities Personnel Committee and a Joint Utility-City Personnel Committee and merges it with a single Personnel Committee. The council also rescinded a residency ordinance that requires all city workers to live within three miles of Juneau and replaced it with a resolution that expands the residency requirement to ten miles.