The Haines Borough Assembly Tuesday night approved revised qualifications for people sitting on the Port and Harbor Advisory committee.
In future appointments to the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee, representatives will not need to own a vessel or a business to get a seat.
Before the assembly’s Tuesday vote, these were the regulations on who is to make up the seven-member committee: Three commercial vessel owners, two non-commercial vessel owners, one tariff-regulated company owner or representative, and one community member at large who has a business related to harbor activities.
A request from resident Mike Denker spurred the changes to committee qualifications. Denker argued that it is a violation of the 14th Amendment to require a resident own a specific type of property to qualify for a seat on the port and harbor committee. He said it takes away residents’ constitutional right to be considered for public service without discriminatory qualifications.
Most of the Haines Assembly members at Tuesday’s meeting agreed.
“The harbor is not just for multiple user groups that are primary users down there, it’s for the entire community,” said Ron Jackson. “And to balance the membership out a little more equally is the right thing to do.”
The new composition takes out the ownership requirement and replaces it with ‘experience.’ It also takes one seat from the commercial vessel experienced contingent and adds an additional seat for a member of the public at large.
The current port and harbor committee and Harbormaster Shawn Bell do not agree with all those changes. They protested reducing the number of seats for commercial vessel representatives. They also asked for three years minimum experience to be the requirement.
“It’s only fair to the entire population to get it as evenly numbered as we could,” said Assemblyman Dave Berry. “And that’s why I appreciate what they do for us, but we have a wider crowd to answer to as an assembly member than just people that use the ports and harbor.”
The assembly approved the requirement changes in a 4-1 vote, with Diana Lapham opposed. Assembly member George Campbell was not present at the meeting. The changes will not affect the current port and harbor committee, but they will apply to future appointments.
The assembly also approved a revised harbor fee schedule that increases annual and transient moorage fees. Borough Manager Dave Sosa says the revisions will generate more revenue to help close slightly but not completely the gap between harbor revenue and costs. Harbormaster Bell says the revenue expected from the increases will total around $10,500 for the 2015-16 moorage year.
The assembly unanimously approved the revised fee schedule.
They also unanimously approved a request from Chilkat River Adventures to add a town tour to the company’s list of permitted commercial tour activities.
“As you all know I spend my Wednesdays at the cruise ship dock, and this will be invaluable to the community,” said Mayor Jan Hill. “[Tourists] tend to want to use the shuttle, which brings them to town, as a tour, and it just doesn’t work. I think that this is a good idea and I think it might help us when we have that long line over there [at the cruise ship dock.]”
The tour would pick up visitors from the cruise ship dock and take them on a one-hour expedition which could include Main Street, Front Street, Picture Point, Fort Seward, Dalton City and the cannery.
The next borough assembly meeting is scheduled for August 25th.