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City Council Doles Out NSEDC Funds, Discusses Possible Excise Tax and Budget Amendments

Nome City Council member Jerald Brown points to an area of land on the zoning map. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

Councilmember Jerald Brown served as acting mayor for the Nome City Council Monday night, while Mayor Richard Beneville continues his recovery in Anchorage.

Mayor Beneville suffered a stroke last week but told KNOM he is recovering well and just awaiting to regain full mobility in his right hand. Councilmember Brown read a letter from the Mayor to the Council during their regular meeting.

“I appreciate the kind wishes that have been sent. I’m doing well and doctors are pleased with my progress. Me? Not so much, as it doesn’t seem fast enough and I am anxious to be getting back home. Hopefully I’ll be back in Nome shortly after a bit more care. Hello Central!”

While Beneville is absent, Brown may have to sign more resolutions as the designated Acting Mayor, like he did Monday night. But the Mayor also acts as a tie-breaker in votes among a split Council.

One such resolution Acting Mayor Brown signed included the distribution of the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation’s Community Benefits Share. Nome resident Kenny Hughes encouraged them to pass the proposed resolution.

“I feel that our children are being well looked after with this proposed distribution.”

– Kenny Hughes

Most of the $200,000 went towards youth programs like the Checkpoint Youth Center, the Boys and Girls Club, and Nome Public Schools activities like the 8th Grade DC trip and sports travel.

NSEDC-Allocations-

Another resolution authorized the city to apply for and use up to $320,000 in funds from the Alaska State Homeland Security Grant program. If the funds are awarded, Nome can purchase public safety equipment.

“The items that were in there were put forth by the police and fire and EMS service. I didn’t have a problem with their request.”

– Glenn Steckman

That’s City Manager Glenn Steckman who explained that last year Nome rejected the same grant out of concern that they didn’t have the capacity to manage inventory and grant administration. The city manager explained that this year, those concerns have been resolved.

Charlene Saclamana, the Emergency Preparedness Specialist for Kawerak authored the application as a “joint” submission between Kawerak and the City so as to meet the region’s needs but not compete for funding.

While nearly half of the Council’s agenda was comprised of budget amendments, those yielded almost no discussion. Councilmember Brown suggested more conversation on those, along with citizen input, during the second reading at the next City Council meeting.

In other business, the Council met in a work session earlier Monday night to discuss an excise tax on alcohol and marijuana sales. One possibility brought up is to implement the tax based on the alcohol or THC content of a product; that was put forth by Nome-Beltz student Molly Kenick during a 2019 meeting.

The next regular meeting for the Nome Common Council is scheduled for February 10th.

Image at top: Nome City Council member Jerald Brown points to an area of land on the zoning map. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM file.

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