The Bethel City council swore in four members at a meeting Tuesday. New members include Leif Albertson and Heather Pike, who had served on council previously. Incumbents Rick Robb and Mark Springer were reelected last week.
The council finalized its requests to the state for capital projects. At the top of the list will be 12 million dollars to expand Bethel’s undersized sewage lagoon and buy a dredge to remove solid waste. The second priority is replacing the decaying timber wall at the city dock. This would cost 6 million dollars, plus 350 thousand dollars for a new port office. Board member Heather Pike urged the council to keep the port near the top.
“A new port office would be a great hand in the aspect of safety and overseeing any kind of a accidents at the port, which there are quite few, and like I say, it’s the number one revenue provider for the city and I think we need to protect our investment,” said Pike.
Third on the list is 4 million dollars for a road around H-Marker lake to connect the state highway and Ptarmigan road. This would require permission from at least two landowners. Dust control is the fourth priority, with the city asking for 3 million dollars to buy a new spray truck and bulk gravel and calcium chloride. The final request is for 7 million dollars to finish a water line to institutional users along the highway. The city received 7 million dollars last year for the project.
The council took the first step in finding people to run the new pool. The city will be sending out a request for letters of interest from companies that specialize in managing pools. The city does not want hire any new employees because of the large financial obligation to PERS, the state-run retirement program. Mayor Joe Klejka put forth the request.
“There’s a possibility that we might be on the line for liability for millions of dollars for the PERS system existing right now. Each time you add a new employee to the city, you incur that same type of liability going forward,” said Klejka. “I would not want to add any new employees at the time being, I think that’s too just too big of problem.”
City manager Lee Foley says there will be a minimum of six employees, including two lifeguards on at all times. The pool is expected to open in October of next year.