After several questions regarding next year’s capital budget were raised by Homer City Council members during the June 28 meeting, the adoption of the 2022-23 capital budget was postponed until further talks and amendments could be made. City council members will offer suggestions and amendments to the city manager to clarify any concerns prior to the July 26 meeting, and the council will vote on the capital budget. However, the council approved other parts of the budget.
During the Committee of the whole and regular meeting, several board members asked questions about individual budget line items, including maintenance funding and building funds, that might require other sources of funding not originally allocated to the capital budget presented. After agreeing to make amendments to the capital budget before it passed, the council voted to postpone the adoption.
While the capital budget will not be approved until after the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, the city will continue to operate as it is until a decision can be made to support the final capital budget. Because the council approved all parts of the budget except the capital budget, there will be no disruption to city services. To view the budget ordinance, visit www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/ordinance/73305/ord_21-36_capital_budget.pdf.
Also regarding the fiscal year 2022-23 budget, ordinance 21-32 was replaced by ordinance 21-32 (S) and adopted in the appropriate funds for the next fiscal year for the general fund, water fund, sewer fund, port / port fund and internal service funds. While the ordinance was passed with optimism, the council made voice concerns with its current lack of allocation of funds for the reserve fund.
“There has been a lot of work done by the council and administration to get us to this point, and so it is a budget I can support. My biggest opposition and concern about it is the lack of transfers of reserves, and people dovetail of concern about the capital budget and reserve policy in general, ”council member Rachel Lord said. “I trust I know, and I will make sure it happens to the best of my ability, that we pursue and we do in good faith to follow through with what we need to be responsible to run the capital assets of the city in terms of maintenance repairs and long-term reserve structures for these funds. “
Council member Heath Smith addressed her concern at the lack of community input, but said she trusted the budget plan.
“I think in the long run, this will be the best thing for the city,” Smith said. “If I wasn’t convinced of that, I wouldn’t have wanted to support it or bring it forward to spend the money in relation to what it costs us to do.”
Following the adoption of Ordinance 21-32 (S), Smith requested a reconsideration of Ordinance 21-32. The reconsideration was voted against in order to keep the budget from being frozen until the next July 26 meeting.
Another ordinance presented to the council Monday by council members Joey Evensen and Mayor Ken Castner is up for further discussion at the next meeting that would submit a question on the Oct. 5 municipal election ballot regarding city council and mayor term limits.
The legislation would require voters if mayors and city council members should be limited to term limits of two years and three years respectively. Currently, city council members and the mayor can serve for an indefinite number of pending re-election terms. By putting the question on the ballot, voters would have the opportunity to express their views on the terms of the terms. To take effect, the term limit of the proposal should receive an affirmative vote from the majority of voters.
“The last four elections, three of the four we had more candidates running than we had seats, and that tells me there is a community desire to be on council,” Evensen said. “We’re a growing community, we’re a fast growing community right now as the entire state chooses to vacation here this summer. I think limited terms are just something thoughtful to do in a very democratic sense for time. our next one. “
Evensen also stated the lack of diversity in the council was not reflection of the population the council represented.
“We should happily set aside at some point and let others serve. Not only us can do that. I think the way people serve in this capacity increases the capacity for this community to come together and have more people participate, ”Smith said in support of putting the vote in front of the community.
The Council passed the introduction of Ordinances 21-43; however, not all council is in favor of term limits.
“There are very many people who will serve two or three terms. Not many times I see that we have council members who serve more than three terms in a small town,” Lord said. “There were a lot of people that runs, but in a small town, I feel this way on the nonprofit board, I feel this way on the borough, I feel this way on the advice: no money feeding this, there is no there is no prestige to feed this. So term limits, I’m just not a supporter of term limits. I think the ballot box where we go to vote for each other is where we make these term limits happen when people could vote out. ”
Board member Donna Aderhold said while supporting the introduction, she wants to hear public comment on whether this is an urgent issue or not. Council member Caroline Venuti also shared this concern, saying people should have brought this issue to the council, not the council “police themselves.”
“I think the public of Homer knows exactly who they want to represent on city council. I think they say it with their vote, and that will disrupt the whole process for me,” Venuti said. “… I think it will cloud up an election when we should be elected on issues. … I hope the public understands, I’m not saying you can’t put this on the ballot ourselves, but I say we shouldn’t put it on the ballot. ”
A public hearing for ordinance 21-43 will be held July 26th.
In addition to budgeting and election limits the terms of the discussions, the city council is discussing new legislation to amend city codes regarding marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, testing and retail facilities, including allowing on-site cannabis consumption in retail stores. Sent to the original planning commission, the motion to recommend the ordinance to city council did not pass. In order to give the commission more time to assess state regulations, the ordinance was postponed until the next meeting. The planning commission will meet again July 21st.
While the introduction of the ordinance was postponed, the council still heard many comments of support from community members during the meeting.
Chris Logan, a co-owner of Cosmic Cannabis Company, was called to address the benefits of ordinance 21-41.
“I would like to speak in support of allowing an on-site endorsement of the current marijuana zoning code. Currently, there is no legal place in Homer for tourists to smoke, and I want you to be aware that state regulations require very strict rules. strict, addressing odors, visibility of on-site consumption, smoke and many other regulations. ”
Mark Turner also called at the meeting to discuss his views regarding the ordinance, stating that the lack of a legally designated smoking area is a safety hazard.
“I consider the approval of this ordinance a safety issue. Again, there is no place in Homer where tourists can smoke marijuana legally. … Some of the cases and concerns about proximity to the Beach Bishop are no different to me than the proximity to bars and restaurants where people are allowed to drink alcohol, for example, in these areas. So again, I urge, particularly for security issues if not for some economic boom in the tourism industry, to approve this ordinance. “
Discussions regarding the ordinance will continue with the next meeting with the planning commission for more information.
The renovation of the City Hall Cowles Council Chamber is due to end at the July 26 meeting, so pending completion, the next City Council meeting will be held in person at 6 pm in City Hall.
For more information on city council meetings, visit www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/citycouncil/city-council-regular-meeting-252.
Reach out to Sarah Knapp at [email protected]