City hires go-between with victims and Nome Police Dept.
The Nome Common Council postponed consideration of the City’s seven budget divisions for lack of sufficient notice in the newspaper.
Nevertheless, the Council worked on issues important to several sectors—port repairs, a long-term lease of the Sunset Firing Range to the Nome Sportsman’s Association and a means to collect sales tax for City coffers from online purchases.
The Council voted to postpone the final budget approvals for two weeks until the next regular meeting; however, the property tax bills will go into the mail as scheduled this week. The delay on budget approval would not cause a snafu unless the mill rate were changed after tax statements went out, according to Bryant Hammond, city clerk, who pointed out that the Council had already voted in a 2020 mill rate of 13 mills, a two-mill increase over last year.
John Handeland, interim city manager, announced that the City has retained Sharon Sparks as administrative assistant at Nome Police Department. Sparks’ duties will include serving as a liaison with crime victims to communicate the status and disposition of cases.
“Often, without contact back, victims may have been left unaware of the legal process and left with the impression that nothing is being done,” Handeland told the Council.
Sparks has experience in child protection services, having worked for Kawerak, Inc. as Children Family Service Coordinator and for a period as a director, and also for the state Office of Children’s Services, where she helped case workers with services, referrals and follow-up.
“Sharon Sparks has lived most of her life in Nome or St. Lawrence Island,” Handeland told the Council.
The Council heard astounding news from Joy Baker, port director, that engineers discovered a 10-foot split in the sheet piling above the water line on the Westgold Dock.
“It’s not a huge ordeal, but it’s going to cost to have it repaired,” Baker said. Sheet pile has a life of about 25 to 30 years. The Westgold Dock was built in 1989 for the BIMA, a gold mining vessel.
Engineers discovered the breach Monday afternoon around 4:30 p.m.
“My heart stopped,” Baker said.
This repair and the need for a new service vessel at the port to replace the Guardian underlined the need for the port to charge users a replacement and repair fee and to fund the port depreciation against maintenance needs.
“We are going to have to have a repair and replacement fund. If this costs $100,000 to repair, we’re going to come to you guys,” Baker told the Council.
The Nome Port Commission was slated to hold a work session on the fiscal health of the port that included capital fees and adjustments for the Consumer Price Index and other costs outside the tariff schedule. “It seems that the Port of Anchorage has problems, too,” Handeland offered. “Maybe if they get help, we can ride the coat tails.”
Handeland reported that he and the current building inspector, David Barron and Troy Miller were meeting with parties who told the Council in the past two meetings that they had been wronged in dealings with contract building inspectors in receiving inconsistent and conflicting requirements for construction projects. The process had cost them money; the City had been unresponsive to requests that the City make it right in both cases, the two parties said.
Handeland met with Colby Engstrom regarding Engstrom’s intent to convert the old Twin Dragon building to a public laundromat; he would also meet with Jessica and Howard Farley Jr. concerning their remodel job on a derelict house.
“I think we have a path forward,” Handeland told the Council. “There were constructive suggestions going both ways. I don’t think we will be going to court.”
Two weeks ago, Handeland took a hard line with Engstrom and the Farleys, reflecting the City’s legal advice.
The Council approved a one-year extension of the lease of the Sunset Firing Range by the Nome Sportsman Assn. The organization is seeking a 99-year lease. An extension for a year would give the City time to study the suggestion and structure an agreement for a longer extension but perhaps not 99 years.
In other business, the Council:
• Learned that Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. had donated $1,000 to the City to advance the Spring Community Cleanup. “Free Dump Saturdays” will continue through the summer, according to Handeland. Another “U Call—We Haul” program will occur in the fall.
• Approved first reading of an ordinance changing “councilmen” to “council members” in the language the Code of Ordinances of Nome.
• Received a reminder from Baker that there will be a public meeting with U. S. Army Corps of Engineers on June 18 at 5:30 p.m. at Old St. Joe’s to collect public comment on a proposed expansion of Port of Nome
• At the end of the meeting, the Council voted to go into executive session to discuss confidential personnel matters related to the hiring of a city manager.