Vern Halter

Mat-Su Borough mayor Vern Halter

PALMER — The Mat-Su Borough passed one ordinance concerning the Port Commission and introduced another piece of major legislation affecting Port Mackenzie. Ordinance 21-023 was proposed by Borough Mayor Vern Halter to add an Assembly member among the Port Commission’s seven members, and passed unanimously. Port Operations Manager Therese Dolan noted that the Port Commission had scheduled two meetings, but never voted on the proposed changes.

“The Port Commission did not provide any input,” said Dolan. “There was a special Port Commission meeting scheduled on March 22 to discuss the ordinance but the commission did not have a quorum present. A second special meeting was scheduled for April 5. The meeting began, one commissioner objected and left the meeting. This left the commission without a quorum and the meeting was adjourned with no action taken.”

Of the seven seats on the Port Commission, one is currently unoccupied.

“I always appreciated the fact that the fish commission had two Assembly members on it, was very effective in the work back and forth with the Assembly there seemed to be better communication and that was my hopes here and I hope I didn’t offend any of the Port Commissioners at all in any manner by doing this but my intent was to add Mr. Yundt a freshman new Assembly person,” said Halter.

Halter was corrected by Borough Clerk Lonnie McKechnie who noted that the appointment of the Assembly member to the Port Commission would come at the next Assembly meeting.

The Assembly also introduced Ordinance 21-039 which would approve the termination of leases with the Mat-Su Borough and NPI at Port Mackenzie. The ordinance will be up for public comment at the next regular assembly meeting, and provides two buyout options for the Mat-Su Borough of $4 and $6.5 million under separate circumstances.

The borough first entered into a lease agreement with NPI in April of 2001 for an agreed time period of 30 years with six five-year renewal options. The maximum length of the lease would extend until 2061. In December of 2003, the Borough and NPI agreed on a 10-year dock lease for a one-time participation payment of $3 million, which the borough used to help build the deep water dock.

In July of 2010, the borough and NPI agreed to amend both leases to end a 2007 lawsuit filed by NIP and granted NPI $1.375 million in lease credits for both the uplands lease and the dock lease. The borough and NPI began discussing termination in 2018. Ordinance 21-039 includes a term sheet which would cancel any and all agreements and any taxes not paid would be transferred to the borough, an estimated $535,322.

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