Nome Common Council passes FY 2022 budget
By Diana Haecker
Monday’s regular Nome Common Council meeting began on a positive note as the Council honored longtime Nome educator Josie Bourdon for her lifetime of achievements in teaching and her passion to perpetuate the Inupiaq language and culture.
Nome Mayor John Handeland read the Alaska Legislature’s recognition of Ms. Bourdon’s achievements into the record.
Then the work of tackling a hefty Council agenda began.
The Council, after having worked on the budget in countless work sessions with City departments since February, passed unanimously several budget ordinances in second reading.
The general fund budget ordinance also set the mill rate at 12 mill instead of last year’s 13 mill for personal and property tax.
The general fund budget was set as $13,647,220, which includes all departments and non-departmental spending.
The Council passed the FY22 Nome School Debt Service fund budget at $284,725.
Next, the Council approved the Nome Special Revenue Fund budget that accepts grants from the federal and state governments and other entities. The budget is set at $1,091,744.
The Nome Capital Projects fund was passed with the sum of $218,000.
The Nome Construction Capital projects fund was approved in the amount of $1.283 million (mainly for Nome-Beltz High School roof repair).
The Nome Port budget passed in the amount of $2.37 million; the Port of Nome Capital Projects fund budget was set at $4,83 million.
In new business, the City’s emergency ordinance that allows the City Manager to “take necessary actions to reduce the impact and spread of COVID-19” is about to sunset. City Manager Glenn Steckman said that the Unified Command, which was stood up last year to deal with the pandemic, is still meeting and that Norton Sound Health Corporation recommends to extend the current emergency declaration until Sept. 30.
Steckman said that with private business restrictions being lifted statewide and with the increase in travel, “there has been a spike in new COVID cases in Nome as people are becoming too relaxed,” he said.
“The success of the guidelines implemented this past year have resulted in the Nome Census District having had an infection rate of just 3.5 percent and thankfully no deaths, Kenai, in comparison, has had 10 percent of their population infected, and 21 deaths,” Steckman said.
The Council passed the ordinance to extend the emergency declaration in first reading, with Councilmember Adam Martinson voting no, and will hear public comment on the issue in the next Council meeting when the ordinance is up for second reading.
The Council also allocated $6,600 to hire PND Engineers Inc. as a consulting firm for port expansion designs and the organization of a Port Charette to be held in Anchorage in June. “The U.S. Corps of Engineers will perform a design charette for this project in which the Consultant shall participate to gain a further understanding of the project,” the contract agreement says.
The Council then prioritized work sessions on topics that were kicked down the road as the Council had to deal with pressing COVID pandemic related policies. The Council will address the following issues in work sessions: a work session with the Nome Planning Commission on building code updates; a different work session on adopting a ban on plastic bags; changes to the municipal election codes; tax credits for beautification efforts of homeowners; ideas to increase revenue and a work session on public inebriation and homelessness. Councilwoman Jennifer Reader asked that her repeated request for a work session on discharging weapons in the port area is taken up. It was added to the list.
The next scheduled Common Council meeting is on Monday, June 28.