Months of budget battles concluded Tuesday night with the final passage of a city budget funding city operations, schools, and capital projects. Nome residents can expect taxes and a lower budgets across city departments in order to better fund Nome Public Schools.
The budget package voted in will raise revenues through an increase to property tax rates, a slight bump in the sales tax on utilities, and get a few hundred thousand in savings from department reductions and a cut to the contingency appropriation. Those adjustments were made in large part to fund Nome Public Schools. The council ultimately voted to give the Schools $809,870.13 on top of what they are required by the state to fund, though still well below the funding cap. And less than the schools asked for, as well.
Though he voted for the measure to finances the schools at $2,042,880.00, council member Stan Anderson says next year he wants more data on the district’s performance.
“Instead of using of using their budget that they give us why don’t we use their audit? I got their audit from the year before and it labels every dime, and where it goes,” Anderson said at the close of the council’s discussion on the proposal. “If we’re gonna give ‘em that much money we ought to find out how the kids are doing.”
It will cost $10,835,164.08 to run Nome in the upcoming fiscal year. That’s the money the city raises through taxes and permits, and spends on everything it takes to operate a government, from salaries to paperclips. But if you live or work in Nome then you’re likely benefiting from funds coming through outside entities—the state and federal governments, but also grants and awards from foundations. Those monies are set off in separate funds, and relate to capital projects like the port’s middle dock, or social programs like the Bering Sea Women’s group.
There was one such funding item that cast a long shadow over budget discussions.
“As for the Foster Building, like Stan brought up, I think we have some serious issues,” said Councilman Matt Culley. “We do have some serious cans to kick.”
Culley wasn’t the only councilmember to draw attention to a $3 million funding shortfall facing the Richard Foster Building as it heads from the design phase towards construction. The project involves city funds, along with outside funding raised through Kawerak and state budget items, which has not made financing easy.
The council is set to pick up discussions on the matter at their next meeting.