Juneau Assembly already busy in New Year

A pair of Juneau Assembly subcommittees will meet today (Tuesday) to work on two of the biggest issues facing the city in the New Year.

The Budget Survey Subcommittee will hold its second meeting with the McDowell Group to refine an upcoming telephone poll about the city’s spending priorities. The Juneau-based research firm aims to reach 400 CBJ residents for the survey.

The subcommittee held its first meeting with the McDowell Group last week. Assembly Finance Committee Chair Karen Crane says it tried to broadly define what kind of information the assembly wants from the questionnaire.

“We want to know how residents feel about particular services. If they were going to make cuts, where would they be making those cuts?” says Crane. “And we talked about how do we get to that information in a usable form.”

Crane says the subcommittee hopes to get into crafting specific questions for the survey when it meets with the McDowell Group researchers this afternoon. But she says the questions are unlikely be finalized until later this month. The goal is to have the McDowell Group complete the survey by early February and have results to the assembly shortly thereafter.

The city faces a projected budget shortfall of more than 7-million dollars over the next two years.

The City Manager Hire Subcommittee also meets today (Tuesday). That group met on Friday to begin talking about the interview process for city manager finalists Kim Kiefer and Norman “Buddy” Custard. Members are working with the city’s Human Resources Director Mila Cosgrove, who says the manager candidates will face a more robust process than your average interview.

“So they’re really looking to see, what does that look like?” Cosgrove says. “And I think, as has been discussed previously, that’s likely to involve, an interview, some type of public process, public presentation, and maybe another exercise or two.”

In order to not tip the assembly’s hand to either candidate, the Manager Hire Subcommittee is meeting in executive session. Cosgrove says the plan is still to do the interviews mid-month, and then offer the job to one of the finalists by the end of January.

“Which means they’ve got a fair bit of work to do between now and then; that’s coming right up,” says Cosgrove.

City Manager Rod Swope plans to retire at the end of March. Kiefer is his deputy and Custard is Chief of Staff for the U.S. Coast Guard’s District 17 in Alaska, which is based in Juneau. Last month, the assembly selected them as finalists for the job from a pool of 25 applicants.

The Budget Survey Subcommittee meets this afternoon at 1 o’ clock and the Manager Hire Subcommittee at 3 p.m. Both meetings will be held in City Hall Conference Room 224.