Steckman: Nome budget process continues, mill rate may go lower

Nome City Hall Building

The Nome Common Council met to discuss the forthcoming city budgets on Monday, May 22.

According to Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman, the property tax mill rate has been set by staff and the council in recent weeks at 11 mills, which is a drop from last year’s 12-mill rate.

Steckman says there are ongoing negotiations between staff and the council that could see the mill rate drop to 10.5 for the next fiscal year.

“The mill rate has been lowered by the staff in the work sessions, and it is at 11 mills,” Steckman said. “That’s the recommended rate, and it was discussed at work sessions … is it possible to lower the mill rate to 10.5? The city finance director and I are going to go over that.”

The most recent property value assessments for the coming fiscal year have shown an average of a 15 percent increase across the board. Steckman says, even if those valuation increases stand after a review by the Board of Equalization, it won’t mean any large increase in property tax revenue.

More than 1,000 pages of assessment appeals and supporting documentation are being reviewed by the city's assessors. Photo by Greg Knight/KNOM
More than 1,000 pages of assessment appeals and supporting documentation are being reviewed by the city’s assessors. Photo by Greg Knight/KNOM

“By lowering the mill rate, we’re lowering how much new revenue would come into the city,” Steckman said. “We also need to remember the sales tax rate has gone down, because we’ve done away with the seasonal holiday sales tax. The extra funds that we were getting in because of COVID have also ceased.”

Steckman says, despite the possibility of lower revenue for the city, residents should not expect any immediate downturn in municipal services.

“Just like every homeowner, we have our bills which we have to pay to maintain our services,” he said. “And then we get into the discussion of ‘when do we start reducing services?’ We’re not there yet. But it’s something that we keep an eye on.”

More meetings on the budget are scheduled for the coming weeks. The Board of Equalization will meet May 31 to address property value assessment appeals, and two more meetings of the council are scheduled after that.

“There will be the second reading on June 12,” Steckman said. “During this period of time there will be a Board of Equalization meeting, and then we will have an idea of what the valuation of the property will be, so that the formal second reading and the mill rate can be set. We’ll probably need a meeting on June 7.”

Each year, the council approves the budgets for the city, the Port of Nome and Nome Public Schools.

Image at top: Nome City Hall building on Front Street. Photo by Brisa Alarcon/KNOM.