Frustration continued to mount during the regular meeting last night as the Nome City Council faced another delay in creating the Public Safety Commission.
Nine applicants met the qualifications for the nine-person council, but, as Councilmember Jennifer Reader pointed out:
“I just looked at all these packets, and they all say ‘Caucasian’ or ‘white’ on them. We are not reflecting the make-up of our community by appointing seven caucasians.”
The ordinance requires the mayor to attempt to form a commission that reflects the cultural, gender, and racial demographics of the community. Based on that requirement, the Council decided not to confirm the nine candidates but continue the search for two weeks until the next regular meeting. Applications are open and available from the City Clerk.
An initial call for candidates closed in June, but according to the Interim City Manager, applications for all commissions are always rolling. Councilmembers encouraged those gathered in the audience to invite other community members to apply.
The Council did have the chance to recognize a community member who is already working to improve public safety: recent Nome-Beltz graduate Ethan Ahkvaluk. Heather Marron, a representative from the Summer of Heroes program, recognized Ethan as one of six scholarship award recipients from around the state.
“Simply put, Ethan makes his community of Nome a safer and friendlier place for both residents and visitors alike. His community involvement and volunteer service are multi-faceted.”
Ahkvaluk will be given $1,500 to put towards his college studies this fall. He is currently working on becoming an emergency trauma technician.
The only new business on the agenda addressed a topic of confusion for many Nomeites: online sales tax. The Council began discussing clarifications to the code of ordinances during last night’s meeting.
“Right now, we can collect sales tax from Amazon but not the third parties that are operating within that marketplace.”
That’s City Clerk Bryant Hammond pointing out a potential “gap” in the current ordinance. Essentially, the City can already collect taxes from the online retailer, Amazon, but the current city law is unclear as to whether third parties that sell on the site should collect municipal tax. The ordinance tries to clarify that taxes apply to goods and services that take place in some part within Nome. Naturally, that raises questions for people who live outside the city limits. Hammond explains that the online sales tax is more like a tax paid in a physical store.
“If they come in and they buy a loaf of bread, then they pay sales tax in the City. They’re not buying it outside of the City of Nome.”
The council will vote on and discuss the ordinance in their next meeting, in which citizens will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns about online sales tax.
Councilmember Topkok motioned to fund the N.E.S.T. Shelter $25,000, but the motion failed. Councilmember Adam Martinson and Mayor Beneville were both absent.
The meeting ended with an executive session to discuss personnel matters. The City Council will have their next regular meeting on August 26.
Image at top: City of Nome Council Chambers. Photo: Margaret DeMaioribus, KNOM file.