All in please - do not exempt state from voter requirement

With respect to the current debate before the assembly on removing the voter requirement for leases of municipal property greater in value than $250,000, we agree that the limit should be raised. It seems like somewhere between $2 million and $5 million over the life of a lease would be reasonable. However, we have a problem with exempting state agencies from a public vote for these large leases.

AIDEA is a fine organization that has greatly helped Skagway and other communities and businesses in the state, but we only have to look back to 1990, the year the voter requirement was added to code, for the reason why everyone leasing property over a certain value was included in the mix.

AIDEA was going to partner with Curragh and Delta Western on the second ore and fuel terminal, which would have been a blight on our waterfront. Luckily wiser heads prevailed, that project was scuttled, and AIDEA ended up making a deal with White Pass for the current ore terminal.

But it does not mean a bad idea backed by a state partner could rear its head again? Think back a year or two to the Selwyn proposal for a dock at the mouth of the Skagway River. We’ve also had some high and mighty governors in the past who did not listen to the people and felt they could just ramrod whatever big ticket project they wanted to put their name on – until the next election.

And just because Sitka exempts state agencies from voter requirements for its leases doesn’t mean we have to. Skagway is known for its independence, and we should remain independent by allowing voters to have a say in the shaping of large projects on our waterfront. We are the Gateway to the Klondike and it is worth protecting for both the future of our port and our quality of life. If the project is big enough, and on our land, then it should have voter approval. Why should AIDEA or anyone in state or municipal government have a problem with this basic democratic principle? - WJB