Bethel City Council Has A Lot On Its Plate

May 13, 2019

Bethel’s first marijuana store, finding a city manager, funds for improving the town’s roads, the community service patrol and sobriety center, as well as paying its members are some of the items before the Bethel City Council on Tuesday, May 14.

The council weighs in Tuesday night on ALASKABuds' plan to open a marijuana shop in central Bethel. The proposed shop would be on Third Avenue, in the brown building that houses Stan’s Barber Shop and the Bethel Family Dental Clinic. The planning commission has already voted to grant a conditional use permit to ALASKABuds. If approved by the state board, this would be Bethel’s first marijuana store. The council has to decide whether to protest that license.

This week, council members continue to follow up on the decision they made last month to fire City Manager Pete Williams. Barbara Thurston, the Executive Director of Alaska Public Entity Insurance, will be presenting an overview of the policy covering the city and its council members. The council also has a measure before it to begin the process of looking for a new city manager.

Also on Tuesday's agenda is a measure to compensate council members. This is the sixth time that council members have attempted to pay themselves for attending meetings. The ordinance introduced last month would offer the largest compensation package ever proposed, paying each council member $100 for attending every regular meeting and $25 for special meetings. The ordinance also includes a water and sewer benefit valued at a few hundred dollars a month. Previous attempts to pass compensation for Bethel City Council members have failed.

Ordinances being introduced this week include a lease to the Association of Village Council Presidents for the building where the Bethel Head Start Program is located, and a couple of state grant applications. One would continue funding for the Bethel Community Service Patrol and Sobering Center Program. The city must provide $32,308 in matching funds. The other grant would provide state funds to help improve Akakeek, Ptarmigan, and Delapp Streets, roads that the city says have experienced heavy use since a road going through private land was closed by the landowner. If approved, the grant would require the city to provide a $175,000 match, which is about 9 percent of the project’s cost.

KYUK will provide live coverage of the Bethel City Council meeting starting Tuesday at 6 p.m.