The Nome Common Council passed three resolutions, among other business items, during their regular meeting on Monday night. Before those were finalized, some citizens raised issues over a lack of transparency from the council.
During the meeting, the council was enforcing social distancing by requiring all people to sit six feet apart, which only allowed for a small audience of about ten people. That restriction caused some to stand outside or leave.
“It’s not working and people are not happy.”– Jessica Farley
Jessica Farley of Nome also claimed that the city’s phone number, to call-in with comments, was initially not working. The only way to access the City Council meeting remotely was by subscribing to a GCI channel on cable tv, which Farley pointed out, not everyone has paid access to. Meetings are not currently available online, though City Clerk Bryant Hammond said he is investigating possibilities to stream them in the future.
Despite hours debating the local emergency ordinance, which eventually they voted to extend to May 20th, the council had a full agenda of other business.
In order to alleviate some of the virus-related burden on Nome-ites, the council is considering an ordinance to temporarily lower the seasonal sales tax from seven to five percent. All council members voted for that measure to be decided in the next regular meeting. They also chose to extend the contract with Geoservices to run Seaside, a correctional facility on Front Street, through May of 2023. This year, Geoservices did not include a permit application to house sex offenders.
After a bit of discussion, the Nome City Council also put their support behind a grant application for a project to expand the Snake River moorage area. Port Director Joy Baker explains this part of the Port of Nome is subject to overcrowding and would especially make room for more subsistence users. And the city has the support of Nome Eskimo Community, a co-applicant for the grant.
“They have interest in partnering on a project that is going to support the subsistence activities.”– Joy Baker
Upon approving the resolution, the City Council agreed to support up to $300,000 of funding or in-kind donations to the Snake River project.
By the end of Monday’s meeting, all six members of the council expressed condolences and shared memories of their seventh member, the late Mayor Richard Beneville. More details about the mayor’s succession and plans for his memorial have not yet been announced. But City Manager Glenn Steckman did share one of Beneville’s last wishes:
“He wants to be buried where he can watch the airplanes fly over everyday.”– Glenn Steckman
The Nome City Council is scheduled to convene for their next regular meeting on May 25th.
Image at top: A bouquet of flowers marks the Mayor’s seat in Nome’s Council Chambers to honor the late Richard Beneville. Photo from Emily Hostaedter, KNOM (2020).