Property taxes will drop, and the city says they’ll still be in the black, after the Nome City Council approved an $11.3 million budget for the coming year. It was one of many budgets approved Monday for a host of city operations, including port facilities, schools, and the ongoing construction of the museum, library, and cultural center known as the Richard Foster Building.
Beyond approving the city’s spending plan for the next 12 months, the council also voted on a property tax cut from 12 to 11 mills, meaning the city will bring in $275,219 less in property taxes.
Other budgets approved include a $217,000 fund for grants and other agreements for the city, as well as an $11.9 million capital budget, the bulk of which—nearly $9 million—is city money going toward the new Richard Foster Building project.
The council approved nearly $768,000 for Nome Public Schools, the full amount the district has requested. The council also approved an additional $40,000 to go toward a full-time preschool teacher position, agreeing to a proposal by the preschool to move another $40,000 of NSEDC funds to fully cover the roughly $80,000 cost of the teacher’s salary.
“There was some funds shifted around between different funding sources to cover the total balance,” said NPS superintendent Shawn Arnold. “It looks like the Nome Preschool position will be fully funded for a certified staff member this year, a certified teacher.”
The council also approved an $11.9 million budget for the Port of Nome.
City Manager Josie Bahnke thanked the council for its work on the budgets, as well as its consideration of a new agreement worth nearly $730,000 for a company called Formations Inc. to provide exhibit displays and cases for the new museum and library.
“Thank you for some major milestones tonight, for the budget. With your support we were able to make that a manageable process,” Bahnke said to the council. She added she also “wanted to thank you for the Formations [Inc.] contract … I think that is one of the last final milestones in this project, the Richard Foster Building project.”
One thing not in the budget this year: any money for the city’s nonprofits. In past years some funds, in particular NSEDC’s community benefit share, have been set aside during the budget drafting process for those organizations, but none of those earmarks are in this year’s budget.
“All of the typical donees that we used to have, like Iditarod Trail Committee, the [Bering Sea] Women’s Group, Boys and Girls Club … were taken out of the budget last year and put into a special revenue fund,” council member Jerald Brown said.
Noting those groups are not in the special fund this year, Brown added that discussions about future NSEDC funds saw “a very strong push by certain members of the council” to put future NSEDC money toward “things other than donations” to local nonprofits.
“So, all of those organizations I mentioned, plus probably a couple others, will not be funded in this budget,” Brown noted.
The city received $150,000 in NSEDC community benefit shares last year. This budget without earmarks for potential future benefit shares could mean a scramble for dollars come February.