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Council Work Session on Controversial Contract Canceled, Set to Be Decided Monday

Nome City Council member Matt Culley at the June 25 meeting, where the council unanimously voted down the emergency vehicle maintenance contract. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

A Nome city council work session about a controversial contract has been canceled.

“Today’s noon work session, which was on the City of Nome light vehicle contract, has been canceled because of a July 1st memorandum from the city attorney that was non-confidential, and also in part on a July 23rd memorandum, which is confidential,” said Nome city clerk Tom Moran.

The contract in question has to do with two competing bids to handle maintenance and repairs for city vehicles. The reason it’s controversial is because of objections about potential zoning violations that were raised against the low-bidder on the contract, prompting the city attorney to set-up a fact-finding investigation earlier this month.

That investigation looked into whether a mechanical garage used by one of the businesses vying for the contract–a business owned by KNOM Chief Engineer Rolland Trowbridge– violated the city’s zoning ordinance, essentially operating a repair garage in a part of town zoned for residential housing.

In a July first memorandum, the city attorney stressed that decisions about planning code violations should never have factored in to the common council’s decision of whom to award the original repair contract to.

Mayor Denise Michaels says, based on discussions with the city attorney, it was decided the subject was better suited for an executive session than a full work session. A formal zoning complaint is now being investigated.

Now the issue is slated for next week’s meeting, where the council will take up the contract yet again–after weeks of delays and nearly a month after the current contract lapsed.

“At Monday’s meeting they will be looking at the staff recommendation on the contract only,” Moran said. “But they will not be discussing the zoning issue per se as an action item.”

That meeting is at 7pm, Monday July 28th in council chambers.