New mayor, council members commence first meeting

PWSRCAC reports on safety, environmental concerns at Valdez terminal

Valdez, Alaska. Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times

Cordova City Council kicked off its bi-monthly meeting April 6 with the newly appointed mayor and council members.

Robert Beedle, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council, city representative, was at the meeting to report on the recent occurrence in Valdez.

“Prince William Sound RCAC is working with Alyeska to review and assess what would appear to be some serious safety and environmental concerns at the Valdez main terminal,” Beedle said. “The concerns are mostly around snow and ice removal on the crude oil storage tank tops, and attempt to repair the damage events on these tanks … many of the potential issues were brought to Prince William sound RCAC by concerned individuals, and we are actively working to validate all the information we received.

“Prince Williams Sound RCAC is working with Alyeska directly as well as communicating with regulators about our concerns. We believe this direct approach will be the most productive and effective way to promote change. We are encouraging Alyeska to use this situation as an opportunity to improve, learn and make fixes.”

The Prince William Sound RCAC sent a letter last month to Alyeska interim president Danika Yeager to address the concerns. Moving forward, PWSRCAC plans to help mitigate the issue to get it “worked out and fixed.”

“Prince William sound RCAC will help Aleyska in any way possible to success in rectifying these deficiencies for the sake of Aleyska employees, the general public and the environment and region around the terminal,” Beedle said. An update is scheduled to be given as things unfold.

Former Mayor Clay Koplin, swore in some of the newly elected Cordova officials at noon on March 17, including Barb Jewell and Terri Stavig to School Board, Ken Jones to City Council. Photo courtesy of Railey Namitz

City audit

The council discussed an approval of a contract award for city financial audit services. According to the staff report, two responses were received after going out to bid, one from the audit firm that has been used in the past, BDO, and another from a new firm (with recommendation) Newhouse and Vogler. Both contract bids, according to the report, came in above what was budgeted for FY2022 for audit services.

“Because of all the federal monies we have been receiving, we were having to do a federal single audit, which is not a normal part of our audit process. It adds typically a third again as much to the audit cost,” City Manager Helen Howarth said.

She added that they did reference checks and evaluated each proposal. Newhouse and Vogler contract bid, Howarth said, was over $30,000 less annually than BDO. A 3-year contract is being sought.

“We are confident they (Newhouse and Vogler) can do the work, and will have it done in a timely fashion, we will have that report,” Howarth said.

City Council was unanimously in support. The audit is scheduled for this summer.

South Harbor funding

Howarth also shared with council and the public that they are putting on a “full court press” to garner funds, $7.5 million to be exact, for the South Harbor Project.

“We are putting on the full court press with the senate finance committee to make sure that $7.5 million-dollar additional request gets in the senate finance budget, which will then migrate through the house and hopefully get passed,” Howarth said.

The city manager shared that whilst in Juneau meeting with “key staff” on the senate finance committee about the project funding, and all of whom “indicted a level of support for the $7.5 million dollar ask,” said Howarth.

A local call to action here in Cordova had been in circulation for community support. A call was scheduled for Friday, April 8 to testify.