In their first meeting since May, the Nome Port Commission discussed a request to reduce rates for one of the largest shipments of gravel the port has seen in recent years.

Jimmy West Jr., owner of the Board of Trade Saloon and Chairman of the Port Commission, sent the request to the Port Director and the City of Nome. At the commission meeting on Aug. 19, City Manager Glenn Steckman explained that the request was sent to his office in April.

“Mr. West came to us (the City) and said, as I read this one section (of the tariff), because of the size, I believe we should be negotiating the rate. I didn’t disagree with that, because we have never, in anybody’s records, moved that much gravel through the port,” said Steckman.

The tariff only mentions hauls over 40,000 tons. The haul in question is more than 200,000, which is significantly larger than any gravel shipments that have come through the Port of Nome.

Because the Port Commission was not able to meet since May, they were unable to discuss the negotiation when it was initially requested.

Port Director Joy Baker emphasized both to the Commission and to the City Council on Monday, that the section of the tariff mentioned does not apply to the situation.

“We should not look at this as a discounted rate on the lowest $1.85 rate in the tariff and ask the Council to grab that … If you do that, then every other carrier out there has the right to ask for a discount on the rate of the tariff. This negotiable section is not about established rates. It’s about land use, someone reserving the dock for a three-month period,” said Baker.

The Port Commission voted 3-1 for sending the recommendation to the Common Council. Including West, three commissioners did not participate in the vote due to conflicts of interest.

On Monday, the Council unanimously refused the request due to the short notice and a potential conflict in public interest, which means West will not receive a discount. However, Steckman suggests that the tariffs be discussed and new tiers be set in place for larger gravel hauls before the hauling season begins next summer to encourage business.

During the Port meeting, Harbormaster Lucas Stotts also shared an update for next year’s cruise season.

“For 2022 cruise ship traffic … we have right now 27 cruise stops that are being looked into for next season. The bulk of those would be later, in the tail end of July, and then heavy all August and September. If that number pans out, it would be more than one a week that whole time, so it would be extremely busy,” Stotts said.

The Commission met on Aug. 25 to discuss ideas for onshore development with the Deep Draft Port Project, like a ramp for spring subsistence hunters and a public park. The commission suggested the idea of holding more work sessions in the future to continue discussing ideas for the land.

The Port Commission will be hosting an open house on Sept. 16 in Old Saint Joe’s for community members to ask questions about the Deep Draft Port Project coming to Nome.

Image at top: the Nome Port Commission members during a regular meeting in February. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2020).