Tonight the Nome Common Council will review how COVID-19 has impacted city finances during the first half of the fiscal year while they begin planning budget amendments.
Some areas are showing major losses, like revenues for city buildings that have been closed for most of the year, as well as in the hotel/motel tax.
Those losses may be balanced somewhat by some unexpected savings for the city. For example, Nome has been using their CARES Act funding to partially cover salaries for police and other public safety personnel who are responding during the pandemic. The current budget amendment suggests a potential savings of $760,097 in the general fund on salaries for just the police department.
The Common Council will also vote on the Nome Joint Utility System (NJUS) budget tonight which includes an estimated cash surplus of $778,222. NJUS is proposing a budget for operations and expenses of $11,065,269 but they expect to take in over $12 million in revenue. In a letter to the council, NJUS Manager and Nome Mayor John Handeland wrote that much of that surplus will likely need to go towards maintenance and upgrades needs in 2021, like inspections and updates at the tank farm. They also plan on doing a study this spring to see if power rates should be increased. Those increases would not go into effect until summer, they say. NJUS wrote that rates have not increased since 2015 and current rates of inflation are eroding their cash margin.
The Nome Common Council meets tonight at 7pm at City Hall. Tonight’s agenda also includes an executive session following the regular meeting.
Image at top: City of Nome Council Chambers. Photo: Brisa Alarcon, KNOM.