The Kenai City Council voted at their Wednesday meeting to cancel their November 18 meeting because it coincides with the upcoming Alaska Municipal League local government conference, which some council members will be attending in Anchorage Nov. 18 — 20.
The council is scheduled to meet on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. A ballot proposition introduced by Kenai Mayor Pat Porter, affirmed by voters in the Oct. 6 municipal election, allows the council to cancel its meetings by majority vote for any reason as long as 20 meetings are held yearly.
At the end of the council’s Oct. 27 meeting, Porter proposed canceling the Nov. 18 meeting during her mayor’s report. Council members Bob Molloy, Mike Boyle, and Terry Bookey objected to the cancelation being discussed outside of the public hearing portion of the meeting, and the council unanimously postponed voting on it until Wednesday’s meeting.
Porter and council members Tim Navarre and Henry Knackstedt are planning to go to the conference, which the Alaska Municipal League holds three times yearly. Some city administrators will also attend conferences scheduled in conjunction with the Municipal League Conference, some of which will be held before the main conference begins on Nov. 18.
In a later interview, Knackstedt said he had planned to participate in the meeting from Anchorage by telephone. In March 2015, the council passed a policy that allows three members to call in to meetings, which Molloy referred to when opposing the cancellation.
“My preference would be to reschedule the meeting rather than to have a total cancellation,” Molloy said. “We do have a very liberal phone participation rule, where as long as we have four members present in person, we could have three on the telephone.”
Ordinances scheduled to be heard at the Nov. 18 meeting included changes to Kenai’s junk vehicle code and funding authorization for airport marking and signage. Knackstedt said these agenda items did not seem urgent, and asked city manager Rick Koch whether municipal administrators planned to introduce any other business that may be time-sensitive.
Koch said the city directors had told him “there was no business they felt could not wait until December.”
Council member Brian Gabriel said he couldn’t recall the council canceling a meeting in the five years he had been a member, but noted that of the three ballot initiatives presented to Kenai voters in the Oct. 6 election, the cancellation allowance had received the most voter support. The initiative received a 68.75 percent “yes” vote.
“I don’t want to get in the habit of canceling meetings out of convenience,” Gabriel said. Nonetheless, he said that because the agenda for the Nov. 18 meeting seemed slim, he’d be in favor of cancelling of it.
“For this time, I will be in favor of cancelation, but it’s going to be a pretty high standard for me to cancel these meetings,” Gabriel said.
Molloy and Boyle voted against the cancelation. Bookey was absent from the meeting, and Porter participated via telephone.
Reach Ben Boettger at firstname.lastname@example.org