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2018 NJUS Budget Passed; Reps From State LNG Project Visit During Council Meeting

Mayor Beneville, sitting at a desk, signs resolutions while City Clerk Hammond, standing next to him, looks on.

It didn’t take long for Nome City Council to approve the 2018 operations and maintenance budget for Nome Joint Utility System during Monday night’s regular meeting.

No comments were made, no discussion took place: all five present councilmen voted “yes” to approve the NJUS budget. Slightly more time was spent on the Council’s only piece of new business: an ordinance to transfer municipal property to Jessica and Howard Farley, Jr., through a lease agreement.

City Manager Tom Moran explains how these two properties on King Place came into the City’s possession through tax foreclosure:

“There is a stipulation in the ordinance that said if the prior owner within five years wants to purchase the property back and the City has not dedicated it for a municipal purpose, they are eligible to do so. So, the person whom we foreclosed on, even though we had the deed to the property, we had no municipal purpose for that property, so they came forward with another party, used the title company, and paid off the back taxes and the foreclosure costs.”

According to Moran, the plan is for the buyers to pay the City $1,500 for a three-month lease while they renovate one property and use another one across Steadman Street as a staging area during the renovation process. All councilmen voted in favor of passing the municipal property ordinance on to second reading.

As the Council was moving on to the last item on the agenda, two representatives from the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) came into the room. Rosetta Alcantra, Vice President of Communications for the corporation, summarized why she was in Nome talking about the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project:

“As an Alaskan, I really firmly believe this is an Alaskan project, and certainly, Alaskans are in the forefront when it comes to looking at getting gas to Alaskans. It happens that we have an export side of this, which would send gas to other countries: China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, as an example. So that’s the part that looks at: how do we export, how do we bring in an additional revenue stream to the state of Alaska that can support the state as a whole?”

Some of the Council members, including Mayor Richard Beneville, expressed concern and skepticism over this LNG project based on promises made in the past that were then broken related to other oil and gas projects’ benefits for Nome. Alcantra says AGDC isn’t promising much of anything yet.

“The only promise I’m making is I am hoping that we can build a pipeline; we are working very hard to do that. We want to make sure as an Alaskan corporation — and we have to do it, that’s our job — we need to make sure we have Alaskans first. We are not a private entity, as far as I’m concerned; we are your corporation.”

According to Alcantra, early work for the Liquefied Natural Gas project could be happening as soon as 2019.

Before adjourning the meeting, the City Council unanimously voted to re-appoint Katherine Scott to the Library and Museum Commission.

The Council will convene again on April 23rd for their next regular meeting.

Image at top: file photo: Mayor Richard Beneville signs resolutions after a City Council meeting while City Clerk Bryant Hammond looks on. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus/KNOM (2016).