A private building in which a public meeting of the Interior Gas Utility board of directors, a government body, was being held was locked for the latter portion of the meeting this week.
Officials said the Tuesday incident was unintentional and that they are fixing the problem.
IGU General Manager Dan Britton said Wednesday that no one from the IGU intended to prevent people from attending the public meeting, which started at 4 p.m. before the building was locked.
The IGU board meets in the Key Bank building in downtown Fairbanks.
A handful of members of the public were in attendance, Britton said. They arrived before the building was locked.
Britton said he learned on Wednesday that the bank locks the lobby at 6 p.m.
“We weren’t intentionally locking the public out,” he said.
A phone number is publicized whereby people can call in and listen to IGU board meetings telephonically, Britton said. In addition, audio from the board meetings is uploaded to the IGU website.
Gas utility officials were unaware of the problem until a call to their attorney on Wednesday, according to Britton.
“It was just something we never have had an issue with in the past,” he said.
At times, the IGU board has finished its business before 6 p.m. Other times, the board has met as late as 11 p.m.
Options are being explored to make the meetings accessible after 6 p.m. including putting a sign on the door or asking for a change of building security procedures, according to Britton.
“We may add something to the agenda that says that the facility doors lock at such a time and if entry is necessary to contact such and such number,” Britton said.
The IGU is a publicly owned utility and a subsidiary of the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Board meetings are subject to the Alaska Open Meetings Act, which requires meetings of a public entity’s governing body be open to the public and that the entity provide reasonable notice of its meetings.
Three of the seven IGU board members were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, while four board members called in to the meeting, according to Britton. Those in attendance were Mike Miller, Jack Wilbur and Gary Wilken.
The IGU board conducted at least two items of business with respect to utility finances, according to Britton.
The board granted approval for $78 million worth of bonds to be sold to finance upcoming expansion projects. The bond debt was approved in a 4-3 vote with board members Patrice Lee, Pamela Throop and Mary Nordale — all participating telephonically — dissenting, according to Lee.
Britton said a second approval by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is needed before the bond sale commences.
The board also approved a negotiated payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough on an IGU-owned facility there.
The IGU is agreeing to pay $12,500 a year on its natural gas liquefaction plant, Titan Alaska LNG, located at Point MacKenzie, according to Britton. The IGU purchased the facility from the state of Alaska, which had been granted an exemption from paying property taxes.
The Mat-Su borough notified the gas utility recently that as a public corporation, it was taxable.
The PILT rate is expected to double after a planned expansion of the plant, according to Britton.
The plant was last taxable in 2015 when it was privately owned and valued at $1.7 million with $23,155.25 in taxes paid, according to Krista King, assessments record supervisor for the Mat-Su Borough.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.