Borough mayors to meet, tackle regional issues

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2006

Borough Mayor John Williams will meet today with his counterparts from Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough to discuss a host of issues of mutual concern, including a plan for preparing for and responding to disasters.

It is the first formal meeting of the newly formed Tri-Borough Commission for Regional Cooperation and Economic Development to be held on the peninsula. The meeting is open to the public and will be held in the Mayor’s Conference Room at the Borough Building in Soldotna.

At the meeting, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, Mat-Su Mayor Tim Anderson and Williams are expected to approve the final draft of the Emergency Operations Mutual Aid Agreement between the communities for disaster preparedness and response. Bill Popp, an aide to Williams, said the three would work out any kinks in the draft, but final signing would not take place until their respective assemblies approve its provisions.

The meeting agenda will cover municipal revenue sharing and property tax relief policy positions and strategies, and transportation issues.

“They will look at mutually shared positions; places where there is common ground, and obviously look at issues at the state and federal level,” Popp said.

Other agenda items include a discussion of the boroughs’ relationships with the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council (CIRCAC), specifically concerning support for adequate state and federal funding for the federally mandated oil-industry monitoring agency.

The mayors are set to approve creation of a Policy Advocacy Team consisting of the mayors and one assembly member from each community.

The agenda includes a presentation by the Sexual Response Assault Team, a discussion of collaborative efforts in support of the University of Alaska, discussion of coastal zone management, and shared links on respective borough Web sites.

The tri-borough alliance was created in November in an effort to enhance Southcentral Alaska’s economic and political clout.

The three mayors said at the time that the commission would aid the region’s three largest municipalities in planning, policy coordination and advocacy in the areas of economic development, tourism, transportation and disaster preparedness.

Collectively, the three boroughs are home to more than 400,000 Alaskans — more than 60 percent of the state’s population, and are represented by a majority of the state’s 60 lawmakers. Southcentral Alaska includes the vast majority of the state’s roads and public infrastructure, and is the state’s commercial headquarters.

The ability to lobby with one voice should give the region significant influence with the Legislature, Williams has said.

“It will give us more political clout to combine our forces and thoughts before we go to the Legislature,” he said in November.

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