The Nome City Council took care of business last night, approving a more than $13.5 million general fund budget of $13,647,220.39 for fiscal year 2022, along with six other city budgets on the agenda.

Before unanimously approving the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, the council made some amendments as Mayor John Handeland explains.

“[On] the revenue side, planning and some reduction in projected savings due to COVID-19 and another one that would add $105,000 to the budget for non-departmental, additional expenses.”

– Mayor John Handeland

This amount of $105,000 is based on how the City of Nome plans to disburse the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation funding in the future. According to Mayor Handeland, and based on the memos from the Finance Director, the City Council plans to absorb the full funding from Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation’s Community Benefit Share going forward and pay out Nome organizations or programs from the city’s own general fund budget.

Nome’s useable taxable value was also adjusted to be over $318,000,000 rather than $360-million and the real property tax rate is now 12 mills instead of the originally proposed 13. These changes, along with an increase to the total revenue and expenses in the general fund, were made based on Finance Director Nickie Crowe’s suggestions sent to the council in a memo.

Following the unanimous approval of the rest of the FY’22 budgets, the Council turned its attention towards new business, such as extending a contract between the City of Nome and the Alaska Public Employees Association. City Manager Glenn Steckman says this time around the labor union agreement was only continued for one additional year.

“I’ve never in all my years in negotiating contracts done it by Zoom and I’ve done a number of labor contracts. I think this created some difficulty between me and their chief negotiator.”

– City Manager Glenn Steckman

The Council also approved a resolution to have Steckman attend a design charrette for Nome’s Arctic Port expansion project, hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mayor Handeland said during the regular meeting that the agreement between the city and PND Engineers will cost Nome roughly $666,000 for this event.

During citizens comments, local resident Jessica Farley urged the council to not extend Nome’s emergency order for COVID-19.

“The last time I chatted with Mr. Steckman the city was at 80% manpower and I know a few staff have left or are leaving. I think it’s just really stressing people out, like there’s a huge difference between the COVID tent in Nome and the COVID tent in Hawaii. One is pretty upbeat and fun and the other one is not… The airport process can be a mess, I’ve had 110 individual conversations with my guests about this.”

– Jessica Farley

Councilmember Adam Martinson seemed to agree with Farley as he was the only person to vote against moving the extension forward onto a second reading. 

Nome’s local emergency COVID-19 order will be discussed further during the next city council meeting on June 28th.

Image at top: Nome City Council meets to discuss regular business including elections and public comments. Photo by KNOM.