Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211


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01:32:41 PM Start
01:33:57 PM SB248
03:08:18 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 248 Out of Committee
         SB 248-ADMINISTRATIVE BOROUGHS/BOROUGH GRANTS/                                                                     
1:33:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BERT  STEDMAN announced SB  248 to be up  for consideration.                                                              
He noted  that this  was the  second hearing  on  the bill and  he                                                              
asked the sponsor to recap the bill.                                                                                            
SENATOR GARY STEVENS,  Sponsor, explained that SB  248 establishes                                                              
a new,  administrative, class  of borough  and removes  several of                                                              
the disincentives  for areas  to organize.  He described  the bill                                                              
as  a  stepping-stone  in  the   overall  goal  of  helping  areas                                                              
organize  into second-class,  first-class,  home-rule, or  unified                                                              
boroughs.  He advised that  this provides  unorganized areas  with                                                              
another  option  and that  no  area would  be  forced  to form  an                                                              
administrative borough.                                                                                                         
CHAIR STEDMAN  added that  administrative  boroughs would  have an                                                              
elective body  with powers  of planning and  land use.  They could                                                              
levy sales  or user tax, but not  property tax and they  would not                                                              
have the power to provide education funds.                                                                                      
1:35:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT BRANDT-ERICHSEN,  Member of  the Alaska Advisory  Commission                                                              
on  Local  Government  and  Borough  Attorney  for  the  Ketchikan                                                              
Gateway Borough,  described  the bill as  a reasonable  compromise                                                              
and  a   viable  means  to   transition  unorganized   areas  into                                                              
organized boroughs. He urged the committee to move the bill.                                                                    
CHAIR  STEDMAN  noted  that  Mr.  Brandt-Erichsen  spent  numerous                                                              
hours working on the legislation. He asked for public testimony.                                                                
1:36:48 PM                                                                                                                    
Mike Black, Director,  Division of Community  Advocacy, Department                                                              
of Commerce, Community  & Economic Development  (DCCED), testified                                                              
that the department  supports the bill because  it provides strong                                                              
incentives  for borough formation  to areas  that might  otherwise                                                              
not find organizing attractive.                                                                                                 
He  noted that  the  department  had  questions about  Section  19                                                              
relating to the organizational grant amounts.                                                                                   
1:38:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEDMAN said  the financial  aspects of  the bill would  be                                                              
thoroughly scrutinized in the Senate Finance Committee.                                                                         
MR.  BLACK expressed  agreement  with  the explanation  and  added                                                              
that  DCCED  had  several other  housekeeping  amendments  and  he                                                              
would provide those to the committee.                                                                                           
LISA  VON BARGEN,  Member  of the  Alaska  Advisory Commission  of                                                              
Local   Government  and   Director  of   Community  and   Economic                                                              
Development for  the City of  Valdez, stated that  the legislation                                                              
moves  in  the   direction  of  encouraging  the   development  of                                                              
regional government,  but that she, the City of  Valdez, and other                                                              
municipalities are  concerned that  the language in  Section 14(c)                                                              
is  suggestive of  having  to use  model  borough boundaries.  She                                                              
urged the  committee to  consider changing  that language  because                                                              
as currently  worded it  places the  onus on  the people  that are                                                              
applying  for consideration  for  borough  incorporation to  prove                                                              
1:41:38 PM                                                                                                                    
FORMER SENATOR  ARLISS STURGULEWSKI,  Anchorage, advised  that she                                                              
had followed  the work of the  advisory committee closely  and she                                                              
would  urge  the committee  to  move  the bill  paying  particular                                                              
attention that the  grant section remains in the  bill. She stated                                                              
the  view  that  in  many  parts   of  unorganized  borough  self-                                                              
government and  participation is lacking, coordination  is absent,                                                              
and  delivery  of   public  services  and  regional   planning  is                                                              
inadequate. Because  the state isn't coordinating  its services on                                                              
a regional  basis many people have  turned to Washington  D.C. for                                                              
community needs,  but the atmosphere in Washington  DC has changed                                                              
and the state isn't going to see grants coming in.                                                                              
She  applauded the  work that  has been  done but  said she  would                                                              
prefer to see this in law because it's long overdue.                                                                            
1:45:16 PM                                                                                                                    
ALAN LeMASTER,  Gakona Junction  Village Owner, testified  that he                                                              
lives in the Copper  Valley, an area that is a  potential borough.                                                              
Historically  the   area  has  been  against  organizing   into  a                                                              
borough, but  many of  the key arguments  against organizing  have                                                              
been  addressed  in  SB  248. Now  people  are  asking  about  the                                                              
state's motive because  in the past the argument was  to get rural                                                              
areas to organize so they would contribute to education.                                                                        
1:47:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARY  STEVENS responded there  is no hidden agenda  and no                                                              
"gotcha"  at the  end  of the  process. The  notion  is to  assist                                                              
areas to become  an administrative borough because  few areas have                                                              
volunteered  to   organize  and  efforts  to   force  organization                                                              
haven't  been  very  successful.   He  acknowledged  that  it's  a                                                              
different approach  to offer areas  of encouragement  or "carrots"                                                              
to  take  a  first  step.  Administrative  borough  will  have  an                                                              
assembly to  provide focus  and make it  easier to deal  with land                                                              
issues. In time,  as the economy develops, it's  almost inevitable                                                              
that those areas will move on and become full-fledged boroughs.                                                                 
1:49:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LeMASTER replied  he would  describe  this as  a "baby  step"                                                              
into borough  formation and  an area could  remain in  that status                                                              
forever  or, once  it  became more  financially  stable, it  could                                                              
move on and become a full-fledged borough.                                                                                      
SENATOR   GARY  STEVENS   said   the  term   "baby  step"   seemed                                                              
appropriate. He added  that the grant is for just  three years and                                                              
although  some   areas  wouldn't  be  suited   for  administrative                                                              
boroughs it would make sense for others.                                                                                        
1:52:10 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVE TRANTHAM, Bethel,  said in his area he has  been unsuccessful                                                              
in finding  support for the bill  for two primary  reasons. First,                                                              
Section  14  relating  to  borough   boundaries  is  objectionable                                                              
because  the Local  Boundary Commission  has set  a model  borough                                                              
boundary  that  is   the  same  as  the  Lower   Kuskokwim  School                                                              
District,  which  would  include   Bethel  and  twenty-five  other                                                              
communities.  The  other  problem  relates  to finding  a  way  to                                                              
sustain borough government  because there is no  state land within                                                              
50 miles.                                                                                                                       
CHAIR STEDMAN  recessed the  meeting to the  call of the  chair at                                                              
1:55:22 PM.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEDMAN reconvened the meeting at 3:07:38 PM.                                                                           
Chair  Stedman  announced  that  Senator Wagoner  had  joined  the                                                              
meeting and a quorum was present. He asked for a motion.                                                                        
SENATOR GARY  STEVENS motioned to  report SB 248, \F  version, and                                                              
attached   fiscal   note(s)   from   committee   with   individual                                                              
recommendations. There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                   

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