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Nome City Budgets Not Yet Finalized; Resolution On Sexual Assault Postponed for Discussion

City of Nome Council Chambers. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus; KNOM

Preliminary discussions on the fiscal year ’19 City of Nome budgets were the focus of a City Council work session last night.

City Manager Tom Moran says Nome is currently projected to be almost $2 million “in the hole” for FY’19.

“We feel that it is probably in the City’s best interests to bring the property tax millage rate back from 10 to 11. We dropped it to 10 last year because the assessments went up pretty drastically. Every three years, there’s a whole re-assessment. We kind of see the writing’s on the wall, just internally, where we think we are going to be looking at a $1.7 million deficit if we keep it (the mill rate) at ten. If we raise it to 11, then maybe we’d be looking at a $1.3 or 1.4 million deficit.”

Those numbers could change, as the City budgets are not finalized yet. The Council plans on having another work session next week in order to have time to pass the upcoming fiscal year’s budget towards the end of this month.

After the work session concluded, the discussion turned towards a short regular meeting agenda. The Council unanimously decided to lease municipal property to Jessica and Howard Farley, Jr., for a period of 13 weeks. Moran explains:

“The people, the applicants, Howard and Jessica Farley, also purchased a property that was on the tax foreclosure list and the abatement list. And now, they want to use the lot that the City owns as a lay down area to rehab the house structure that they purchased.”

The next piece of business before the Council was a resolution supporting Alaska Native Victims of Sexual Assault and other violent crimes. Lisa Ellanna, one of the group members who originally proposed such a measure, expressed some concerns about the resolution to the Council during citizens’ comments.

“We were hoping you would consider tabling it until we could add to our discussion a little more before you adopt the resolution. We are grateful that the City is in support, but some of the language use needs a little work, I think.”

Councilman Mark Johnson commended City staff for getting a resolution included in last night’s agenda, but he agreed with Ellanna in saying he wouldn’t mind postponing the measure for another meeting.

Councilman Gerald Brown reminded those in the room that this resolution does not dictate action.

“We don’t need to wait on the resolution to start working towards a resolution of the issue. I mean, doing a resolution is great, but a lot of times, that’s just words. So if we could start action before we get the words necessarily all nailed down to the exact letter, that would be great.”

Before adjourning the regular meeting, City Manager Moran shared details on a new hire for the Nome Police Department. Joe Dickerson is now a police investigator for NPD and will handle all the sexual assault cases reported to the Nome police, including cold cases from years past. This new hire is related to one of the requests made by the group of concerned citizens last week in their proposed resolution addressing public safety deficiencies in Nome that affect Alaska Natives.

The City Council will hold its next regular meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, May 29th, the day after Memorial Day.

Image at top: file photo: City of Nome Council Chambers. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus; KNOM.

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