Nome Common Council passes budget, increases mill rate to 11.5

The Nome Common Council on Monday passed through second reading the city’s fiscal year 2025 budget and set a property mill rate of 11.5, an increase of one point over last year.
The general fund budget number is just over $17.8 million, with a deficit of $2 million, which will come out of the savings account to balance the budget.
The budget was amended to get rid of a $135,000 flatbed tow-truck, as the city tries to put out a request for proposal to the private sector for towing services.
The city’s major revenue source are the property and personal property taxes, and sales taxes. The taxable property, after board of equalization proceedings, has a value of over $380 million; given a 11.5 mill rate, property taxes bring more than $4.37 million to the city’s coffers, up nearly $470,000 compared to last year. The personal property tax is projected to earn the city nearly $490,000; sales taxes are projected to earn nearly $7 million, bed taxes account for $220,000 of income and sales tax from remote sellers is a whopping $620,000.
On the spending side of the ledger, the most expensive department within the city is the Nome Police Department, with a budget of nearly $4.5 million, Public Works and Road Maintenance with nearly $3 million and the administrative department with just over $1.5 million. Councilmember Scot Henderson asked if the city has heard from the state regarding the education budget, as the city has chipped in $200,000 more than last year as their contribution of $3.4 million to the Nome Public Schools. No, they have not, said City Manager Glenn Steckman. Mayor John Handeland clarified that the operational budget has been transmitted to the governor and is awaiting signature and news what budget items didn’t survive the governor’s veto pen.
The capital budget has not yet been transmitted to the governor.
Henderson discussed the $2 million that the city is running in the red. He inquired how much money is in the city’s savings account. Once the $2 million come out, it would stand at a balance of $6 to $6.5 million, Steckman said. “So we have about three more years left dipping in our savings before we run out of money to balance our budget?” asked Henderson. Steckman answered, no, this would come earlier, as there are some big bills coming up. Steckman advised that best accounting practices dictate that the city maintains 10 percent of the budget as a reserve, or about $1.8 million.
Henderson then inquired if there would come any harm out of delaying the approval of the budget on Monday. He noted that two council members are missing from the vote (Cameron Piscoya and Maggie Miller were excused) and that no discussion had taken place to come up with additional revenue streams other than raising the property tax mill rate. “I’m not in favor of this budget,” Henderson said. His notion gained no traction at all. Finance Director Nickie Crowe said that the tax bills are about to be put in the mail and that the council always had approved the budget before the tax letters went out. Mayor Handeland asked Henderson point blank what he wanted: “The mill rate is set, the school contribution is set, what do you want?”
Henderson said, “Two million dollar deficit is what.” His concern is that the council is passing a budget with a two-million-dollar deficit and the only revenue stream is to raise property taxes. Handeland said, the budget can always be amended. After voting on an amendment to remove the tow truck from the budget, the council, including Henderson, voted unanimously to approve it.  Other budgets approved in the meeting included the school debt service fund at $696,556; the special revenue fund budget at $1.3 million; the capital projects fund the construction capital projects fund; the Port of Nome budget at $2,547,150 and the Port of Nome capital projects fund which includes the port expansion, at a budget of over $93 million.
 In other business, the council passed in second reading an amendment to an ordinance that deals with minor offense citations for cabs and busses, and set a fine schedule which is enforceable by the Nome Police Department.
The council acted on another ordinance amendment, which will now require proof of rabies vaccinations prior to importing any dog to Nome. The ordinance amendment was read, but not voted on in the last council meeting. The council passed it through first reading, with the second and final passage scheduled for the next council meeting.
The council passed a resolution to hire Jay Stern of Windward Strategies as the federal lobbyist, for a monthly retainer of $5,400 plus expenses, to lobby in Washington D.C. on the city’s behalf.
Nome Joint Utilities Systems Superintendent Thomas Simonsson reported to the council that NJUS’ water and sewer crew will start jetting the water and sewer system city wide. “Residents will see them jetting the lines and may smell some of the stuff but there won’t be any inconveniences,” he said. NJUS will also test fire hydrants. Other than two open positions at the water department, the NJUS line crew is fully staffed, he reported.
Glenn Steckman reported that the Nome Police Department nears 90 percent completion of their efforts to become an accredited police department. One of the few things missing is a proper fenced-in impound yard. Supply chain issues to get chainlink fence to Nome are to blame for the holdup. The Nortwest Accreditation Alliance will then send people up to Nome for an inspection and NPD may be fully accredited by the end of the year.
Mayor John Handeland remarked that Midnight Sun activities are planned, but nobody stepped up into Bridie Green’s place who used to plan and organize the Midnight Sun parade. Handeland encouraged folks who are interested in helping to put the parade on to contact him on Facebook.
The council then went into executive session for “subjects that tend to prejudice the reputation and character of any person” and for police matters, which by law, municipal charter or ordinance are required to be confidential. No action was taken after the executive session.


The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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