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City Council Calls On Lawmakers And Governor Walker To Solve Financial Crisis Soon

Chrissy Roes/KUCB

The Unalaska City Council wants state officials to solve Alaska's financial crisis — and soon.

At a regular meeting Tuesday night, the Council passed a resolution urging legislators and Governor Bill Walker to compromise on fiscal legislation during this special session and fix the budget shortfall in the next three years.

The resolution passed unanimously, but not before councilors chose the wording carefully.

Councilor John Waldron wanted to emphasize that Governor Walker has just as much responsibility as lawmakers when it comes to compromising on controversial issues, like restructuring the Permanent Fund or adopting a state income tax.

"If the resolution is going straight to the Legislature and he doesn't see a copy — or if it's not presented to him in a way that says, 'Hey, you need to listen and do your job too' ... I don't want that to happen," said Waldron.

Councilors said they were concerned the resolution could suggest that they sided with Governor Walker over legislators — especially since the Governor's Office asked city councils around the state to write to the Legislature.

After rephrasing the statement to emphasize cooperation, though, the Council passed the resolution, which now goes to both the Legislature and the governor.

City Manager Dave Martinson said that was always the goal.

"I think the intent of the Governor's Office is to get municipalities to express their desire to have them work together to come to a solution instead of ignoring the big elephant in the room, which is: 'You've got to figure this out or we're going to continue to see a spiral in the state financial arena,'" said Martinson.

In the local financial arena, the council agreed to contribute funding to next month's Aleutian Life Forum, a conference on conservation sponsored by the Qawalangin Tribe.

The Council will donate up to $3,000 for the event. The money will come from the Council contingency fund and cover one meal for the conference's 40 presenters and estimated 200 participants.

Councilors also heard an update on the renovations to Unalaska's Aquatic Center. Contractors have discovered that eight steel columns in the pool area have rusted and will need more repairs.

While that work will be delayed another year, the rest of construction will be complete by mid-August. The pool will reopen with regular hours on Sept. 6.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019.
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