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Nome Common Council passes new housing ordinances

3 men sitting around a conference room table.

The Nome Common Council passed three new ordinances at its May 23 meeting designed to promote the construction of new rental housing in the city.

The council amended the new ordinances before passing them. The amendments will make more projects eligible to benefit from the tax and fee exemptions.

“From my perspective, we made the ordinances a little bit more user-friendly and apply to as many situations as possible,” Council Member Scot Henderson said. 

For example, the initial draft of one of the ordinances required that at least six new rental housing units be constructed to qualify for the tax exemption. Now, even a single, new unit would qualify.

The changes to city code will take effect immediately, but the earliest tax year the changes will actually apply is 2023. People shouldn’t wait to begin new construction projects, though.

“If you want to get started on a project now, start developing the project, start applying for building permits, planning construction, and actually start the construction, you can apply now. But the tax exemption  … won’t be actually granted until 2023.” Henderson said.

Henderson is glad the ordinances passed, but reiterated that they are only the first steps to addressing Nome’s housing challenges. He encouraged anyone interested in taking advantage of the new incentives to contact city administration.

“Constructing homes in Nome can be very expensive and complicated. So feel free to reach out to city administration if you have any questions on whether or not you think your project may qualify for one of these programs,” Henderson said.

Also at the May 23 meeting, the council discussed the city budget for fiscal year 2023. According to City Manager Glenn Steckman, there were some significant changes to the budget this year.

“There are raises in there for the recently agreed-to union agreement, … and one of the major additions is for the city to go out and hire an assistant city manager, who would also serve in the role as economic development director in the city as we begin to look at a way to assist local businesses and encourage people to develop businesses in the community,” Steckman said.

As far as saving money, the city is looking at ways to reduce its insurance costs and increase operational efficiency, Steckman said. 

One thing that has not affected the budget is the upcoming port expansion. The Port of Nome maintains its own budget, separate from the city’s.

“While the city may lend money to the port occasionally, that money is paid back by the port through its operating funds,” Steckman explained.

Steckman also noted that the property tax rate will remain at 1.2% in FY23. The rate was 1.3% in FY21, but dropped in FY22.

The Nome Common Council will meet next on Monday, June 13, at 7 p.m.

CORRECTION: This story previously stated that the Common Council passed the city’s FY23 budget on May 23. The council actually passed the budget on June 13.

Image at top: The Nome Common Council meets on May 23. Photo by Sean Milligan.

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