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Who does assembly represent?

Posted: April 14, 2014 - 8:41am

Does your borough assemblyperson represent you, or are they employees of the borough and entitled to an executive level compensation package? If they are borough employees how can they approve labor contracts that will ultimately increase their own benefits without having a clear conflict of interest?

Borough Assemblyman Brent Johnson from Kasilof introduced ordinance 2014-11 which would have eliminated about $97,000 worth of assembly benefits in exchange for doubling the monthly stipend.

Wayne Ogle, assemblyman from Nikiski, offered an amendment that would reduce the monthly stipend which the assembly voted down 8 to 1. The original ordinance died in favor of a substitute introduced by Bill Smith, assemblyman from Homer, that keeps all the benefits in place and adds 40 percent to the stipend. Only assemblymen Johnson, Ogle and Charlie Pierce (Sterling) voted against moving the substitute ordinance forward.

Speaking to the substitute, Mr. Smith and others on the assembly made statements claiming to be borough employees and entitled to taxpayer provided perks. Upon hearing the “employee” claim, the question that immediately came to my mind is, “if the assembly ‘works’ for the borough, then who represents the public?” This discussion is on the record and available for everyone to review by going to the borough web site.

The assembly benefit package currently includes an executive healthcare plan ($19,000/year) each, a monthly car allowance ($150-$250), plus mileage allowance ($0.56/mile), internet service ($25/month) and a life insurance policy.

With the cost of borough government increasing this year faster than growth in the local economy (estimated at $4.5 million/school district alone) it seemed like a prudent act of leadership on the part of Johnson, Ogle and Pierce to make spending cuts.

The substitute ordinance will be heard and probably adopted at the April 15 assembly meeting in Seward. Call your assembly person today and ask them who they represent. The people of Kasilof, Nikiski and Sterling were well represented on this issue. What about the rest of you taxpayers?

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