Council votes youth member in, changes definition of majority in elections
Despite the howling snow storm, which arrived earlier in the day, the Nome Common Council met in a work session and a regular session Monday night. The meeting was the first for Nome’s new city manager Glenn Steckman.
The council voted on two action items. Ordinance 0-19-10-01 changes the definition of majority required for a candidate to hold office as mayor of Nome, sit on the school board, Nome Joint Utilities board or Nome Common Council. A majority is now defined as 40 percent plus one vote. Prior to the change, it was 50 percent plus one.
The second action item, Ordnance 0-19-10-02, adds a non-voting youth representative to the council.
Both votes were unanimous.
Persons under the age of 18 are not allowed to vote, yet they have a stake in present day decisions. The council values the perspective and opinions of young people and so decided that adding a youth representative might be a good idea. The individual must be a student at Nome-Beltz High School and must apply to the school principal for the position and then be elected by the student body and confirmed by the Nome Common Council. There will also be an alternate youth representative. As school elections are in September at the high school there needs to be a discussion on how a representative might be elected before then.
Under New Business the Council approved a resolution authorizing the City of Nome to join the Alaska Remote Seller Sales Tax Commission for the purpose of developing a tax code for remote sellers such as Amazon.
A resolution was approved to name parties qualified to sign certain financial instruments for the City of Nome.
The third resolution approved concurs with the Issuance of Right of Entry to the Nome School District. This is a legal document and is related to the plans to build a teacher housing complex on the property now occupied by the skating rink. A discussion of the teacher housing plans and also what to do about losing the skating rink ensued. It was noted that the skating rink provides a wholesome activity to a large number of young people.
This council meeting was the first for Glenn Steckman, Nome’s new city manager.. He encouraged the council members to use their new city email addresses and said he’d like to meet with each of them. “I’m just trying to get a feel for the movement of the organization right now,” he said.
In public comments, Paul Kosto spoke on the problem of ambulances being late. “We’re not serving our citizens of Nome,” he said. “The ambulance department is failing and our citizens are suffering because of it.”
Communications include a letter from NSEDC detailing the 2019 NSEDC Community Benefit Share to the City. The letter informs the City that the distribution is for $200,000 this year. It goes on to discuss how the use of the funds must go through a public process at the municipal level and that the City must report to NSEDC how the funds will be used.
There are two liquor store license renewal letters from the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office. One is for Alaska Commercial Company and the other for Nome Liquor Store.
A volunteer tax preparer program submitted a letter explaining their offer to help prepare tax forms in Nome for free. The Alaska Business Development Center has a track record of helping people prepare their taxes and better understand their rights as taxpayers.
Dana Handeland’s letter to Glenn Steckman details the replacement of servers and storage in the City’s IT department. The replacement was approved in the FY 2020 City of Nome budget. This equipment is essential for all city personnel and other functions. The new equipment to be purchased should last for five to seven years. Costs are $31,000 for storage and $18,399.32 for the two servers. Handeland recommends that the equipment be purchased from GCSIT Solutions.
In the work session preceding the regular session Nome Public Schools Superintendent Jamie Burgess presented State of the Schools. She announced that plans are underway to offer the district’s first kindergarten Inupiaq immersion class in the fall of 2020. She discussed chronic absenteeism and the effect it is having on the schools and the need for culturally appropriate supplemental materials in the elementary school. Burgess talked about the move of sixth graders to the junior high school and a decline in parent involvement at Anvil City Science Academy. The district has 20 new staff members this year, the second year of high turnover. Replacing the Nome Elementary School fire alarm system is still awaiting cost information from the engineers. And there are some major maintenance costs looming.
In the mayor’s report Richard Beneville said the just completed Alaska Municipal League meeting in Anchorage was excellent and he is now Chair of the Alaska Association of Mayors. He wished everybody a happy Thanksgiving and thanked them for venturing out into the storm to attend the meeting.
In the comments from the board members Jennifer Reader wondered what the status of the proposed plastic bag ban is. She wants to get the ambulance situation resolved and is concerned about plans for snow removal this year so that problems, which occurred last year will not be repeated.