The borough assembly moved the two ordinances forward at a meeting Tuesday. But neither decision was unanimous.
The first is in response to Haines’ loss of trooper service. Alaska State Troopers relocated its Haines post earlier this year. That leaves areas outside of the townsite without consistent law enforcement protection.
The ballot question would create a new service area, expanding the jurisdiction of the Haines Police.
Assemblyman Tom Morphet raised two concerns. One, he thinks the proposal should come from the public, not the government. Two, the question might signal that Haines is giving up the fight to reinstate the trooper post.
But Heather Lende said the borough would be remiss if it didn’t have a back-up plan.
“Sure, ideally, we just want the trooper back,” Lende said. “But if that isn’t going to happen, we are at least giving residents an opportunity to vote on a different option. And one that by code, by service area, they will pay for the service.”
The assembly voted 4-2 to move the police service area question to its first public hearing. Morphet and Sean Maidy were opposed.
The other possible ballot question deals with a less-prominent topic.
Right now, Haines’ charter says certain borough officers serve at the pleasure of the assembly. They include the manager, clerk, chief fiscal officer and attorney.
That’s led to questions about how the assembly should supervise and evaluate those staff when it only has direct oversight of the manager.
The ballot question would amend borough charter to say only the manager serves at the pleasure of the assembly. Morphet also objected to this idea.
“I feel the clerk and CFO have considerable discretion and authority and in a real sense, have power in this chamber and over the people of the Haines Borough,” Morphet said. “And as such, I believe these positions should answer directly to the public. And [the assembly] is the public. We represent the public.”
But Morphet was in the minority. He and Tresham Gregg cast the only ‘no’ votes.
Both the police service area and charter amendment ordinances will have public hearings July 25.