Borough Assembly Will Meet Again on a $12m Question

On Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly met to discuss a letter from the Federal Transit Authority asking for repayment of $12 million in grant funds.  That money was used to fund a ferry project between Port MacKenzie and Anchorage that was never completed. Most of Tuesday’s meeting took place in executive session.  The Assembly decided to hold another meeting on August 21st to continue the discussion.  Deputy Mayor Ronald Arvin says the Assembly needs to know more before making a decision on how to respond to the FTA letter.

“There are several potential solutions and responses to that, so we’ve asked staff to put together some additional information, because we couldn’t arrive at a conclusion without knowing some additional details, and that will be the basis of the [August 21st] meeting.”

Jim Sykes, who represents District 1 of the borough, says that it’s important that borough residents are made aware of the potential cost.

“As we explore these things, these options, and they’re in executive session, I think the public should at least be able to know what the total liability could be if we have to pay the full bill.”

Assembly Member Vern Halter, whose district includes the Upper Valley, says he was skeptical of the ferry plan years ago, and that he is frustrated with the current situation.

“It seems like were kind of locked into a situation where we can’t perform, because we can’t take the ferry across to another city that just hasn’t been very cooperative in letting us have a landing.  So, it’s just been physically impossible–and the demand letter says, ‘You guys are not providing ferry service.’  That just irks me to no end.”

Because executive sessions are off-limits to the public, the full slate of options is unknown.  Multiple mentions of a legal plan were made on Tuesday, and it’s even possible the borough could file litigation of its own.  Whether that’s likely or not, and what other alternatives might exist, is a question that will not be answered until after next week’s closed-door meeting.  The borough has until early next month to respond or else risk accruing interest on the funds.

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