The Kenai City Council passed one city ordinance and three resolutions at their first meeting of 2014 Thursday night.
The council approved a travel grant for the sum of $3,000 to the Institute of Museum and Library services for two staff members to attend a training conference through the Alaska State Library.
The council also passed one resolution to allocate $8,000 from the city budget for the purchase of email archiving software, and another resolution awarding the lowest bid of $29,990 to Westside Flooring to replace the carpet in City Hall.
A resolution supporting an Alaska Board of Fish proposal that requested a prohibition of 24-hour operations at the personal-use salmon fishery, was voted on and approved with councilman Mike Boyle voting nay.
The resolution was postponed at the Dec. 18, 2013 meeting so city administrators could make proposal revisions.
Boyle said his only issue with the resolution was the city taking a stand on what hours the fishery would be open.
“I’m all about fish protection and somebody needs to make those decisions but I don’t think it should be a bunch of politicians, it should be scientists,” Boyle said. “It’s a little issue but sometimes you have a philosophy and just go with it.”
The majority of council discussion came from the introduction of an amendment to a Kenai Municipal Code ordinance, which would provide Mayor Porter the right to nominate council members to a committee instead of holding elections to determine their assignments.
Councilman Robert Molloy used his full 10-minutes of allotted time to express his disapproval of the amended ordinance. Molloy said the ordinance should not be introduced based on a mistake in premise.
“We have a custom for how we do those elections and it wasn’t followed,” he said. “One of the remedies a council member has is make nominations from the floor. The ordinance proposed would take that right away from a council member by saying nominations can only be made by the mayor.”
Molloy, who has served as a council member for nine years, said in the past the council has come to unanimous consent through the election process to decide a committee liaison and does not see any reason to change that.
“Once you give up that right, you are not giving it back,” Molloy said. “There are reasons for that protection of minority in parliamentary procedure.”
Porter responded to Molloy’s comments saying she did nothing different from previous mayors and nowhere does it say she had to leave it up to the council members to decide their committee appointments. Porter is also in her ninth year as mayor, following her re-election in October where she narrowly defeated Molloy.
“It is not a reward, you are a messenger for the committee you serve,” she said.
Boyle also offered his disagreement with the ordinance saying he believes the best use of power is to give it away.
Porter said her intention of assigning council members to their respective committees was to avoid conflicts between certain council members and city staff and put them where they can do the most good for the city of Kenai.
“I don’t believe that makes me a dictator,” Porter said.
Molloy, who has served on the Harbor Commission for three years, said it has been a great experience overseeing the board, but it takes up nearly a full term of service and he would like the opportunity to be a liaison on multiple committees for a more well-rounded understanding of the city.
Councilman Terry Bookey said he had some concerns about the committee liaison mayoral nomination, but was looking forward to the discussion in the work session before it came to a vote.
The city council passed the motion 5-2 with Molloy and Boyle voting nay to move the ordinance to a public hearing where it will be voted on at the next council meeting Jan. 15.
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.