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Homer City Council grants exemption to moorage fees for skiffs attached to large vessels

City of Homer

More than 10 fishermen gathered in the council chamber to comment on a resolution that would change the timing of when harbor tariffs would apply to work skiffs. The council passed updated tariffs last February, which would make work skiffs pay moorage fees, even when they are attached to a larger boat. The new resolution would keep that fee from going into effect until next year.

Evan Blankenship is a local commercial fisherman that would be affected by the fee. He wants the council to reconsider the fee altogether because of the effect it has on seine fishermen.

“For me personally, this will increase my harbor annual harbor fee by 50%, which it, coming off a year where our prices were slashed by 50%, is kind of a hard hit,” he said.

Councilmember Rachel Lord co-sponsored the resolution with the city’s Port and Harbor Advisory Commission. She supports the exemption because many people were not aware of the fee change until after the council approved it. She says in the meantime, they are working on finding other funding to keep the harbor running.

“The harbor is not immune to inflationary pressures and the rising cost of all the things right?” she said, “and so we're hustling hard to get grant money to get as much outside support as we can to recapitalize to, to make more space.”

Councilmember Jason Davis also supported the resolution, saying that the city should have been better about communicating those changes.

“This was a big enough shift of the way things have always been done that I feel, really feel like it was on us as organizations to be more forthright in just coming out there and making sure people are in the loop,” he said.

The council unanimously passed the resolution.

The council also approved five contracts to complete work around the city. One roughly $30,000 contract will go towards septic pumping services. Another nearly $37,550 contract goes toward equipment at the city’s sewer treatment plant.

A project to improve the sidewalk on Ben Walters Lane may begin soon after the council approved a contract worth about $1.4 million. Another $14,050 will go towards a contract to install a new door at the city harbormaster’s office.

Finally, the council approved a one year contract to renew insurance plans for city employees.

The council passed a resolution to request the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to look into legislation that would allow Airbnb, a booking platform for short term rentals, to directly collect sales tax.

Short term rental operators currently are the ones responsible for collecting and sending sales tax from bookings over to the borough.

Another resolution would put over $10,930 more into the Kachemak Sponge Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Project. One more resolution would add an annual pass option to drop-in recreation activities, as well as give approved organizations the option to rent out space at the Homer Education and Recreation Complex.

Two ordinances will have public hearings at the next meeting. One will take funds from the 2022 fiscal year and put it toward a sidewalk repair project at the Homer Airport. The other will allow the city to take a $184,578 loan for drinking water improvements.

The council heard presentations on a site visit from Agnew::Beck consultants for the city’s comprehensive plan, an event blessing ships next week, and a recent trip from resident Cathy Stingley to Teshio, Japan.

The city council will meet again on May 28.

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Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.
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