Council approves six new ordinances
The Nome Common Council met Monday evening for a work session and regular meeting and approved six weighty ordinances.
The Council, in second reading, adopted the Remote Sellers Sales Tax Code and amended other parts of the tax code. They approved an update of the Port of Nome tariffs, the 2019 Operations and Maintenance Budget for Nome Joint Utility System as well as the NJUS 2019 Capital Investments Budget.
Also approved was the 2020 NJUS Operations and Maintenance Budget and the 2020 Capital Investments Budget.
The work session prior to the regular meeting dealt with the regulation of hours of sale for cannabis retailers. Greg Smith, owner of a cannabis business in Nome, submitted a letter to the Council requesting that the permitted hours be extended. The hour-long discussion covered the black market and its effect on crime in Nome, comparisons to the liquor industry’s operating hours, and the feasibility of zoning as part of the regulation. Youth representative Molly Kennick told of young people who are exposed to marijuana smokers in the neighborhoods near the retail stores. There is a school bus stop close to one of the stores. The Council decided more research was necessary and that they would consider Smith’s request.
The Council passed, on Port Commission recommendation, an increase of Port tariffs by 10 percent. The extra revenue will be used to create a fund for future maintenance and construction projects.
“Washing your hands for twenty seconds is a really long time,” said Nome Joint Utilities manager John Handeland. “But do not skimp on washing your hands.” Handeland believes water usage will increase with more people washing their hands for longer to protect against the coronavirus. He reported the wind farm will save 125,000 gallons of heating fuel this year.
The Council received a letter from Fort Yukon, Alaska regarding the initiative, which would allow Alaskan voters to vote a day early in the 2020 presidential election. The request stems from the fact that eastern states announce the victor in national elections before Alaskans have voted. This has an impact on local elections as many voters lose their motivation to go to the polls when the winner of other more populated states has emerged.
In the city manager’s report Glenn Steckman said there will be a meeting of the Nome Local Emergency Planning Commission every two weeks to keep members updated on the coronavirus.
The lack of a city planner is having an impact on the 2030 comprehensive plan. The city recently did a search for a prospective city planner and received no response. Other options are under consideration.
One of the finalists for the Nome finance director position was in attendance at the council meeting.
Police chief candidate Jennifer Shockley dropped out of the selection process as she has accepted a job elsewhere. The Nome Police Department is interviewing for two positions, and investigator and a sergeant.
The burled arch and related traffic controllers will be installed on Friday, March 13.
Utility manager Ken Morton reported the recent power failure, which lasted only a few minutes, was due to the failure of a relay. NJUS crews are busy with freeze-ups of water lines.
Mayor Richard Beneville visited Anchorage for the start of the Iditarod and thanked John Handeland for helping him negotiate the crowds. In a speech in Anchorage, he stated, “The Iditarod is a big deal. It resonates with the population of our state. It’s a huge piece of our history and the mushers and the dogs are walking in the footsteps of heroes.”