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Council tightens conflict of interest policy

Posted: June 29, 2012 - 8:49am

With a little bit of tweaking from council members an ordinance passed which amended the chapter of the Soldotna Municipal Code relating to conflicts of interest of city officials Wednesday during the Soldotna City Council meeting.

Exiting council member Kyle Fisher and Pete Sprague introduced the measure when the two met and found the current city code lacking.

The portion of the code the two suggested amending pertained to council members who sat on the board of directors of for-profit or nonprofit corporations.

"We both tried to look at the code and it seemed a little bit confusing," Sprague said.

When the ordinance was opened for council discussion Council Member Dale Bagley asked if the amended ordinance would bar council members from participating in portions of the budget process in which the city allocates money to non-profit organizations.

"It would depend on the dollar amount," Fisher said. "I believe it says if the potential recipient of the appropriation of city assets in an amount exceeding $500."

Mayor Peter Micciche said he was concerned the ordinance would discourage council participation from the most active members of the community.

Another portion of the amendment would have barred council members who had an employee relationship with a person who addressed the council on an issue from voting on that issue.

Micciche said he thought that portion should be taken out as it would "make this much more palatable" and "gets you where you want to go without tying the hands of this council in a way that discourages people from serving."

Fisher responded that the intent of the resolution was not to tie up the council and agreed, along with Sprague, that the portion could be taken out of the resolution.

"I appreciate your compromise on this," Micciche said. "I know we spent a lot of time on a rewrite two years ago and you can trust me that it was very loosely written at that time so I think it's important that we remain flexible with that to keep the public trust."

After the meeting Fisher said he wanted to clarify the code.

"I kind of fancy myself a purist when it comes to politics," he said. "I think it should be a really pure process more often than not, it's not. I love black and white, but we work and live in a grey world so anything I can do to make it more black and white, I think it's positive."

Fisher's last meeting was Wednesday as he is moving to Dallas. The council is currently look for applicants to fill his seat.

The deadline to apply for Fisher's position is July 5. Applications are available online and in the city clerk's office. Applicants must be registred voters within the city of Soldotna and must be a resident for one year as of July 11 when the new council member will be sworn in.

Rashah McChesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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