Council honors Cussy Kauer for service to Nome
The Nome Common Council introduced an ordinance amending and adding another section to City laws a requirement that owners and managers of vacant properties register them with the City. The measure requires owners to make arrangements for their perpetual maintenance and file information on contacting them in case of emergency—for sake of utility shutoff, fire safety and police reasons.
Owners must pay a registration fee for each structure. The law if passed would require owners of vacant structures to register them within 90 days of the first day of vacancy. Failure of owners to register a property, keep contact address current or maintain or secure property would result in fines. Each 30 days of infraction of the ordinance would be a separate offence with a separate penalty.
The Council unanimously approved a resolution Okaying a contract with Altman, Rogers and Co. to perform audit services for spending year 2016. The company has since 2008 audited the City’s books to check internal controls and compliance with provisions of laws, regulations, contracts and grant agreements, noncompliance with which could have material effect on financial statements and on each major program in accordance with the laws. The service will cost an estimated $58,000, excluding out-of-pocket expenses. The full cost usually comes to around $62,000 to $63,000, according to Julie Liew, finance director, meaning that this year’s $58,000 is in the ballpark.
The Council spared no ink or praise in passing a resolution 6-0 honoring Caroline “Cussy” Reader Kauer for service and commitment to the City of Nome. Kauer began work in the city clerk’s office in 1974 and attained controller status in 1982 and served until May 2012, employed with City of Nome for 38 years.
The resolution credited Kauer with many volunteer services on behalf of her love for Nome—as a sampling—research and preservation of death records for 100 years of Nome gold rush residents and of the Nome Cemetery and continuing stewardship of the cemetery and burial plots; played an essential part in Nome’s centennial celebration that included the 100 year All-School Reunion; inaugural balls for governors, Midnight Sun Parades and many other receptions for local, state, federal and international dignitaries and restoration of Old St. Joseph Hall, the naming of Anvil City Square and location of the world’s largest gold pan and the bronze statues of the Three Lucky Swedes.
Kauer serves as chairwoman of the Museum and Library Commission, which shepherded the design and realization of the Richard Foster Building, site of the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum, the Kegoayah Kozga Library and the Katirvik Cultural Center.
“I want to add something to the financial part,” Councilman Stan Andersen piped up. “For 30 some years she was here keeping Council and department heads in line; otherwise we would have spent a lot more money,” he said. “She kept the City solvent with her stewardship of the funds.”
Tom Moran, city manager, said a plaque or some such award would be presented to Kauer.
Kauer did not attend the meeting.
A group of City of Nome employees and Nome Joint Utility System met with representatives from the Quintillion Subsea Fiber Project on Monday, April 18, to work out a route for the cable coming into Nome carrying Internet service at the speed of light via fiber optics. Quintillion subcontractors, New Horizons Telecom, have been using trenches and horizontal drilling to prepare the way for the cable to travel from about Mile 3 Nome—Council Road to a station at Tel-Alaska’s address in the center of town.
Quintillion favored a route along King’s Place. The City and NJUS nixed burying cable in the street’s narrow right of way and because it would hinder slated water and sewer upgrades.
Excavation and resulting mud along Tobuk Alley and N Street for cable burial has upset neighbors, but Quintillion as assured Nome that the entire route would eventually be returned to same or better shape than before the project began.
Quintillion Fiber, based in Anchorage, is running a 766-mile subsea cable system from Nome to Prudhoe Bay, with spurs coming off to village landings at Kotzebue, Point Hope, Wainwright, Barrow and Oliktok Point. The project will link a new fiber optic line with an existing North Slope land-based fiber optic line to bring high speed Internet to the six communities in Western Alaska.
He and Julie Liew, finance director, had met throughout last week with department heads to discuss their part of the budget, Tom Moran, city manager, said. The talks were sure to place emphasis on shaving expenses, as the City’s State Revenue Share has been cut by $123,000. Additionally, The City will be missing $150,000 from a reduction in an ambulance contract with Norton Sound Health Corp. Do the math; that could indicate a cut of $273,000 from the overall budget, but property owners could be the fallback, Moran said. In his report to Council he said he planned to include an increase of one mill on property taxes, taking the mill rate from the existing 11 mills to 12 mills.
The shortfall “could be made up with a mill rate increase,” Moran told Council. The staff will work on the FY-2017 budget throughout May.
Moran requires quarterly reports from department heads to give a more detailed picture of operations. The third quarter fiscal year reports have been submitted to Moran and passed on to the Council, and are available for inspection at City Hall and the library. The public may inspect the 11 reports at Nome City Hall.
Related to budget activity, Deb Trowbridge, director of Kawerak Headstart, made the Council aware that the Nome Public Schools budget had dropped support for two pre-school teachers. Several parents backed of the need and benefit to youngsters in advancing their school careers with a solid beginning.
City of Nome would be working on budgets during May when Council could address the issue, Councilman Stan Andersen told the group.
Shawn Arnold, NPS superintendent, said the schools could not directly fund preschool teachers, only K through 8, but could administer pass through money as grants.