Homer City Council recap: September 9, 2019

Sep 17, 2019

Credit City of Homer

At Monday night’s Homer City Council meeting, the council failed to approve a measure it had been discussing since March that would have allowed properties outside the city to connect to city water. 

The ordinance, amended  city code pertaining to water rules and regulations. It was introduced in April and had been postponed twice.
It would have allowed residents and businesses outside the city to connect to water if their property was adjacent to the city’s water line, as is the case in many areas of Kachemak City.

The council appeared to be on track to approve the measure, following review by the city’s planning and zoning commission, as well as some changes in wording suggested by the city’s attorney. But at Monday’s meeting, Councilmember Heath Smith, how had previously spoken in support of the measure, requested an amendment that would require the city to submit an application to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska amending its water service area to include all properties serviced by city water, including those outside the city limits.

City Manager Katie Koester said the city is currently working on an application through the regulatory commission for lots within the city that are now serviced by city water, and said it was a lengthy process. Some on the council questioned why the city should submit to a more proscriptive process than is required by state law.

Smith said, however, that in his discussions with the commission he was informed that the city was required to include all land that is being served in the service area because the city has a monopoly in terms of water service.

The council split along its typical line on the vote with council members Caroline Venuti, Rachel Lord and Donna Aderhold voting in favor of allowing the water use and council members Tom Stroozas and Smith voting against the measure. Council member Shelly Erickson was excused from the meeting.

Any member of the council who voted against the measure may call for reconsideration under Robert’s Rules of Order.

In other action, the council heard a report from City Manager Koester outlining what the city finance department considers a modest upward trend in revenue fund projections for the year. The city is planning to consider action related to the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s disaster declaration from the Swan Lake and Caribou Hills fires, and is considering using its emergency fund to supplement any lost sales tax revenue as a result of lost visitors to the area when the fires made travel between the Kenai Peninsula and the rest of the state all but impossible by road.

The council also revised its capital improvement projects priority list, placing a muti-use community center as a top priority. The council is currently working toward obtaining a quote for the demolition of the HERC building on the corner of the Sterling Highway and Pioneer Avenue and the large, centrally located parcel is favored as a potential site for a multi-use community center by many on the council.

Also on its list of top priorities were the barge mooring and large vessel haul out repair facility, a new large vessel moorage facility, a storm water master plan and a sidewalk on Main Street.

It also removed a Homer conference center from its list to keep the community center as its primary focus.

Stroozas proposed the idea of preparing the Homer airport for seasonal commercial jet service as a long-range priority, The idea, which would require extensive changes to the Homer airport, including the installation of a TSA inspection station, was voted down by the council with only Smith and Stroozas supporting the measure.

The next meeting of the council will be Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.