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City Council Elects to Not Vacate Right-Of-Way, Moves Fiscal Year 2019 Budgets Forward

Two NPD officers take their oaths of office, led by City Clerk Bryant Hammond, during a regular City Council meeting. Photo Credit: Davis Hovey, KNOM (2018)

Two brand-new Nome Police officers took their public oaths of office during the City Council’s regular meeting last night.

Leighton Cox and Elizabeth Jachim were led in their pledge by city clerk Bryant Hammond to kick off the Council’s agenda.

“…(As) the City of Nome police officer, without fear, favor, or partiality, and therein do justice to all persons, and to the City, so help me God.”

The Nome Police Department (NPD) also has a new community service officer (CSO), Bryan Piercy, who was not present to take his oath of office in Council Chambers. Six of the seven councilmen then heard public comments from multiple citizens, including the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Paul Kosto.

“Now is not the time to stagnate or lower the visitors’ center. So if the City was to come in and operate it for less, then the Chamber could probably operate it for less, do a lot less. (But) now is the time to tap into and go out and find those people that are seeking safe places to go and be a tourist, be a birder, and take their children. If we lessen what that visitor center is doing, we will miss those opportunities.”

Kosto feels that no business in Nome can sustain operating someone else’s business, which is why he requested the Council allow the Chamber of Commerce to continue managing the visitor center this fiscal year. According to Kosto, his organization is asking for roughly $214,390 from the City in fiscal year ‘19.

Another budget-related request came from City employee Joe Horton. He believes that a tractor trailer and side dump are desperately needed for hauling snow in the winter. Councilman Stan Andersen was curious about the cost of buying that equipment.

Andersen: “How much if we rented one?”
Horton: “$105 an hour. So you’re looking at over $800 a day. Still, it’s cheaper to hire a truck driver with our own truck than to rent out a truck.”
Andersen: “But with a tractor trailer, you could rent it just for the times you need it.”
Horton: “Well, the side dumps, we don’t rent their tractor trailers, because you’ve got to put side boards on it so you can haul more snow.”

Andersen also questioned if a tractor trailer and side dump would only be used during the winter months. Horton says Nome’s public works crew could use that equipment for spreading gravel and summer projects like “U Call We Haul,” in addition to hauling snow. The anticipated cost for those two items is $120,000.

City Manager Tom Moran noted the tractor trailer and side dump would be a good expenditure; however, including the cost in this year’s budget may not be the best.

Before concluding last night’s meeting, the Council approved a resolution to increase the mill rate from ten to 11 for this calendar year (2018), and authorized the lease of municipal property to the Federal Aviation Administration for an eight-year period.

One ordinance that didn’t pass would have vacated the right-of-way in block 96 of Tobuk Alley. Property owner Kirk Reynolds asked the Council to allow him to purchase a small, 20-by-100-ft. section of the alley and do a minor lot consolidation.

“As far as access to Dry Creek, D Street ends on the corner; it has a huge trail that goes into Dry Creek. Four-wheelers use it all summer; snowmachines use it all winter long. It never gets blocked. It’s always been there. There used to be access down between lots 10 and 11 on that map; that has since been filled in by the owners of those properties. But there still is plenty of access down into Dry Creek.”

Two other Nome residents, including Joe Miller, openly opposed this ordinance. The Council decided to unanimously vote the motion down. Andersen explains:

“I wasn’t in favor of this the first time it came out, and I expressed that because I think once you start dealing out streets, you set a precedent, and then, you’ll have to do it all over town, and that to me just gets scary.”

Following that piece of business, all of the fiscal year 2019 City budgets were moved on to the second reading phase last night. The Council will hold its next regular meeting to approve or reject those budgets on June 11th at City Hall.

Image at top: Two NPD officers take their oaths of office, led by City Clerk Bryant Hammond, during a regular City Council meeting. Photo: Davis Hovey, KNOM (2018).