Council mulls division of $200,000 NSEDC share among agencies
The Nome Common Council continued to winnow through requests from service organizations for money from the annual Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation’s Community Benefit Share Monday evening. Some groups are trying to replace state money cut from their budgets.
One major hurdle: This year the fund has grown by an additional $50,000 to $200,000 for each of the 16 NSEDC member communities, but written applications and fervent pleas from the City Hall podium for help totaled $329,389.38.
Some folks asked for money for start-up services, some sought to replace state funding cuts, some hoped for money to supplement the City’s cost for services. Programs asking for contributions include delivery of counseling, youth recreation, eighth graders trip to Washington D. C., an art-therapy program, the Children’s Home, a drug and violence victim shelter, youth court, Boys and Girls Club, XYZ Senior Center, Nome Emergency Shelter Team (N.E.S.T), ski team, swim team, high school activities, youth camp, Kawerak, Inc.’s Child Advocacy Center, Iron Dog Snowmachine Race, for examples of nearly 30 programs seeking assistance.
Emily Stotts, interim animal control officer, laid out a plan to network and combine existing services for pet owners and their animals. Stotts, owner of new business Rural Alaska Animal Resources, and active in the PAWS of Nome animal rescue program, spoke on behalf of animals needing air travel, kennels and supplies, and euthanasia co-pay funds, to the tune of $8,487. From the top, R.A.A.R. offers pet boarding, R.A.A.R Retail and annual subscription services, at a cost of $5,000 a year for communities to fund their communities unlimited liaison services through R.A.A.R Center.
Additionally, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, which in the past was contacted by 81 communities in the region concerning disasters related to storms, has seen funding cuts. The LEPC needs money for emergency safety equipment, supplies, training and utilities—“just a hair over $29,000,” according to Paul Kosto, LEPC vice chair.
The LEPC comprises members representing the NPD, Nome Emergency Services, Nome Public School District, NJUS, City of Nome, Alaska State Troopers, news organizations, Bering Straits Native Corp., Kawerak, Northwest Campus UAF, Bering Strait School District and Port of Nome.
Nome Joint Utilities System is asking for $30,000 for replacing LED fixtures by 10 percent of the number per year. NJUS installed the more energy efficient LED fixtures in 2011 at the cost of $164,750 of which $100,000 were provided by NSEDC, $45,000 provided by the City of Nome and $20,000 from NJUS. The new lights reduced the City’s annual street-lighting costs by about 67 percent, according to NJUS Manager John K. Handeland. The fixtures have a 10-year life, and need to be replaced with LED lights.
Just a minute - replacements of the LED fixtures would cut into the total energy savings, Glenn Steckman, city manager observed. Further discussion claimed that the LED fixtures are less expensive than the former mercury vapor, and the lights need to be maintained by the City (NJUS).
Nome Eskimo Community needs $29,000 to support its Tribal Transit Program, which provides a free bus service within Nome. In 2019, the service accommodated 5,814 passengers, with 1,498 trips, stopping 8,287 times around Nome over 7,341 miles driven, according to the request letter, signed by Tiffany Martinson, executive director. An original grant has been used up. There is another application in the works. The bus makes five runs a day on fixed routes.
The Council will meet again in work session on Jan. 27 to whittle down the list. Norton Sound Development Corp. lays down the rules for distributing the Community Development Shares. Selection of organizations and amounts for their programs must be determined by public process in open Council meetings and work sessions. Recipient organizations must submit reports and accounts of spending on an agreed time schedule.
Rhonda Schneider, executive director of Nome Community Center, commented that even if all requests cannot be granted, the agencies do work together and will realize a benefit.
In other business:
Three Nome students attending Mt. Edgecumbe High School sent letters dated in December, deploring domestic violence and sex assault in the community. Ariana Adams, Galen Gologergen and Haley Osbourne asked the City increase funding for the Nome Police Dept. to work on these issues.
Mayor Richard Beneville and Council members applauded the young people for taking the step to become involved and show concern for their community.
In other business, the Council learned that Nome Police Dept. will upgrade Taser stun guns carried by all police officers. The new Tasers, leased from Axon, to be used in law enforcement, will more easily go through heavy arctic clothing in Nome’s cold weather environment.
The NPD signed a five-year lease with Axon for Taser equipment in 2019 for $34,275. This desired upgrade will cost an additional $4,125 per year, per the resolution passed unanimously by the Council. The Council authorized the amendment of the Axon equipment lease, at a total cost to City of Nome 0 $54,900 over the five years.
In other spending for public services, the Council passed a resolution approving the purchase of a snow blower attachment for snow clearing equipment. The cost: $254,502.01. The model: Wausau MP318 loader mount blower from Bob’s Services of Anchorage.
The Council approved lists of state Legislative and federal Legislative priorities.
State of Alaska legislative priorities package.
• Public Safety, domestic violence and sexual assaults.
• Full support of statewide port construction bond package.
• Nome Schools capital improvements.
• Continued state partnerships with communities.
• Infrastructure maintenance and improvements.
• Covered multi-use recreational structure ($650,000—ice rink and summer activities).
• Water and sewer infrastructure improvements.
Federal legislative priorities package:
• Domestic violence and sexual assault as public safety concern.
• Arctic deep-draft port in Nome.
• Seasonal U.S. Coast Guard forward operating location.
• Maritime communications center.
• Alternative energy production resources and enhanced energy storage.
• Water and sewer infrastructure improvements. Preparedness and emergency response equipment facility.
• Drug and alcohol abuse, suicide prevention, education and treatment.