Last Wednesday and Thursday, the Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, and the City of Valdez conducted a joint oil spill response area exercise. The exercise was based around a simulated worst-case oil discharge at the Valdez Marine Terminal. Over 300 people across multiple agencies and organizations participated in the drill. LT Allie Ferko, of the USCG, called the drill a success, explaining that it gave responders a chance to practice many skills from start to finish and incorporate new agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management into the exercise. Photo provided by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.
BBC ARIZONA DEPARTS
THE USCG reports that the BBC Arizona left Valdez Harbor on Friday evening after being cleared by the Captain of the Port for Prince William Sound. Decontamination procedures on the BBC Arizona commenced on Friday after the last of the ships oil filled containers were moved shoreside, cleaned and returned to the ship. According to Cmdr. Benjamin Hawkins, “Coast Guard personnel inspected the ship and its’ cargo to verify all requirements of the Captain of the Port Order were met,” he added, “Due to the diligence and collaborative efforts of all those involved in the response, I was satisfied that the ship did not pose a safety or environmental hazard.” The BCC Arizona had been undergoing cleaning and decontamination since a spark ignited some oil that had leaked onto the ship’s deck on May 31st. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
The City of Valdez voted to raise the property tax mil rate at a Special meeting last Thursday. The value of TAPS came in at 11.8 billion, way up from last year's valuation of roughly 8.3 billion said CIty Manager John Hozey. The revenue from 20 mil taxation will mean a windfall of 58.7 million in revenue for the City of Valdez this year. "We can only use 40 million for our operations”, said Hozey. “The remaining 18 million needs to be used for debt service. Last year we didn't have debt. This year, we plan to set this money aside and use it to pay down the debt for the building of the Middle School". While the increase in mil rate from 18.3 to 20 means roughly an additional 18.7 million TAPS has to pay to the City rather than the State, for citizens and businesses it means an increase of roughly $170 dollars in property tax each year for every $100,000 in property value they have. Donna Schantz and Karen Ables both voted down the tax increase citing the burden it would place on individuals and businesses. Mike Wells, Dorothy Moore, Jeremy Miner, and Dave Cobb were in support of the increase in an effort to pay down debt and have the ability to acquire more debt. Chris Moulton was absent.