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Council Addresses FY ‘19 Budgets, Community Benefit Share Funds, City Audits

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Financial matters dominated Monday night’s Nome City Council meeting as the council passed five amended ordinances, allocated NSEDC funds, and adopted the 2018 fiscal year audit.

On January 21, the Council met in a work session to discuss amendments to the 2019 budgets as recommended by City Finance Director Julie Liew, and those passed final reading on Monday.

“Motion to amend carries.”

That was city clerk Bryant Hammond, who repeated that same phrase as all five ordinances passed last night. The most notable was an additional $301,003.86 for the Nome Police Department to pay for extra staffing and training.  Also approved was $13,000 for a new commercial dishwasher, food prep table, and cabinetry for the XYZ Senior Citizens Center.

All voted to pass a resolution distributing $167,000 in NSEDC community benefit share funds among Nome community organizations.

Under new business, the Council discussed a resolution to authorize the filing of lawsuits for foreclosure properties delinquent on property taxes for 2015, 2016, and 2017. Clerk Hammond describes the next step:

“I intend to send out delinquent notices, as we do when interest accrues, and in that delinquency notice to the property owners that could be subject to this foreclosure. There will be a courtesy letter in there, saying we’re going to start advertising, so you need to settle if you don’t want your name in the paper.”

It is in the Nome Code of Ordinances that the City is allowed to file foreclosures every two years, although, according to Hammond, this has not happened since 2015. The resolution passed, but Councilmember Topkok suggested Clerk Hammond give properties 3 months rather than the standard 2 months to come up with the tax money.

In his City Manager’s report, interim manager John Handeland announced that the Public Safety meeting to discuss the legal framework of a public safety advisory committee will be held at Trigg Tribal Hall on February 18. The time is yet to be decided and will be run telephonically by Councilmember Topkok, who will be out of town at the time.

Manager Handeland also proposed hiring a grant writer, Jenny Evans, for an amount not to exceed $5,000.

“I would like to enter into an agreement to pursue targeted grants that may be identified starting with some police items, but I’ll be talking with Nome Eskimo Community on some other opportunities, as well.”

The council approved that hire unanimously.

Councilmember Mark Johnson struck down a suggestion from the city manager to increase the pay for Paul Kosto, who is working with NPD as a temporarily hired investigative custodian. The suggested pay increase was a result of the extra responsibilities that the position has “morphed” to entail, something Councilmember Johnson questioned:

“Well, then I have a problem with this morphing, because we’re hiring people for certain things, and the Chief gave us information based on certain things… I don’t feel comfortable without understanding what the whole process is.”

Although it is within the City Manager’s authority to make that pay raise himself, Handeland agreed to rescind the suggestion and come back to the Council with more information.

Mayor Richard Beneville was absent due to illness. Councilmember Doug Johnson was not present, and Councilmember Jennifer Reader participated telephonically. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for February 11.

Image at top: public domain.

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