In the Unalaska City Council’s last meeting of 2016, they looked forward to March and the annual lobbying trip to Juneau.
The cost of the trip is steep, around $30,000. There’s nearly $12,000 for travel and $10,000 more set aside for a seafood reception and constituent dinner.
But the meals are a tradition. They’ve been going on for decades.
City Manager Dave Martinson shared the city’s lobbyist’s advice.
“It would be good to do it, but if you are going to not do it this is the year not to do it," Martinson said. "People go there not to eat bairdi, not to eat cod, they go there to eat king crab. Everyone knows the numbers. The quota was reduced.”
He says there’s value in both meals. The question is, how much does the council want to do and how much can they afford?
Councilor John Waldron suggested one way to cut back food costs.
“Instead of king crab as a whole, king crab can be made into a chowder or something and it will serve a lot more people," Waldron said.
He’s in favor of keeping both – the seafood reception and constituent’s dinner – but only if the cost can be brought down. Overall the council agreed, they’d like to see the meals happen, but with a smaller price tag.
Ideally they want the seafood reception to cost 3-thousand-dollars less and the constituents dinner to cost one-thousand-dollars less.
The council also spent time further refining their stance on marijuana regulations.
The group stood firm on their decision to let the market drive the number of businesses and to add an additional 3 percent sales tax to marijuana, alcohol and tobacco.
In terms of further restricting business locations through buffer zones, councilor Yudelka Leclere pushed for a buffer zone around parks.
“I really have a concern not having some kind of buffer around areas we the city have events for children, dedicated to the children,” Leclere said.
New council member, Rachelle Hatfield agreed. She says she supports a park buffer because of the kids.
“Just as Yudelka [Leclere] mentioned, there are a lot of activities a lot of kids running around and I would like to see the buffer at the park,” Hatfield said.
With a consensus – adding buffer zones around parks, but not the airport of Unalaska Marine Center – the council is ready for city employees to draft an ordinance. Once that’s done, there will be two more opportunities for the public to weigh in.