Nome Common Council extends Moran’s contract till fall 2018

The Nome Common Council and Tom Moran, city manager, have hammered out a contract to keep Moran at the top of the stairs in the head office for another year.
At its regular meeting on Monday evening, the panel voted 4-2 approving an agreement to pay Moran $100,000 a year plus a $3,000 signing bonus, along with picking up Moran’s annual membership fee for the Alaska Bar Association.
Councilmen Mark Johnson and Louis Green Sr. voted against renewing Moran’s contract as presented. Johnson noted that with the shortage of funds and the City considering additional taxes, budget cuts, additional fees and fines, the time was not right to be discussing bonuses. Green raised several issues, including the availability of accident reports centering on an incident in which an unknown person reportedly had stolen Moran’s City truck last year and rolled it on the tundra, for a total loss. Moran had talked to the Alaska State Troopers and Nome Police Department for hours, he said, and gone to view the accident himself shortly after the truck was discovered.
“I don’t go through a week without hearing from somebody why there isn’t an accident report on the pickup,” Green said. Moran agreed to try to secure reports from state and City law enforcement.
Councilman Lew Tobin opposed offering Moran both the signing bonus of $3,000 and the annual bar association fee of $1,000, saying that it should be one or the other. The Council voted down the amendment excluding the signing bonus.
The City was getting Moran awful cheap, Councilman Stanley Andersen said. A higher salary was part of longevity with the City, Johnson noted. The deal includes a City-owned vehicle for business and personal use, which must remain within City limits overnight. The City will pay for communication equipment, insurance, maintenance and fuel.
At the end of the meeting, attached to his city manager’s report, Moran served himself a generous hunk of humble pie, declaring an intent to correct any deficiencies identified by the Council during contract negotiations, avowing an intent to improve in these areas.
However, “if you ever have a problem, tell me, and I will alter the course, if I see it is ethical to alter my course,” Moran concluded.
In other personnel business, the Council voted unanimously to approve a one-year extension of the City’s contract with Bryant Hammond. The new contract expires Sept. 14, 2018 and pays Hammond at the annual rate of $80,000 and provides 30 days’ leave per year. The City will provide an existing City-owned vehicle for business use of the employee only, as well as insurance, maintenance and fuel.
In further business involving the City administration, the Council added the responsibilities of City Treasurer to Hammond’s city clerk duties. Moran previously held that responsibility.

Junk cars
Despite extensive background from Commissioner Sara Lizak on Nome Planning Commission’s work and viewpoint on junk vehicles, an ordinance prohibiting storage of junk vehicles in any zone but Industrial District did not achieve second reading and final passage. Right off, the Council wondered what happened if the City chased junkers and caught them, so to speak. Who would enforce the rule? What would fines be? How would people have access to their vehicles for parts? A lengthy discussion suggested there be a storage lot for junkers; whoever wanted to use it would sign a hold-harmless agreement for City’s protection.
Fines were not an issue during initial stages of implanting the law, Moran explained. The City was implementing a junk vehicle law in baby steps, he said. In the spring the Council had approved adding the definition of junk vehicle so the Chapter 18 Zone Law. Monday the Council would say junk vehicles could dwell in the Industrial Zones. Next, the City could attach the junk vehicle law to the City’s fines structure, Moran concluded. He agreed with Lizak that junk vehicles had been “one of the public’s number one complaints [sic].”
Councilman Jerald Brown advocated amending the law to allow junk vehicles in the Resource Development Zone, a use that could go with the mining industry. Oops, Brown called back that idea. “That encourages someone with Resource Development land with city limits to open a junk yard.”
Andersen had several suggestions on ridding the community of idle eyesores, inflicting property-value lowering vehicles.
One, “We take the first earliest aerial view of the city and compare with the latest ones. Then, the crap still there we go after,” Andersen said.
Two, since a lot of people can’t or won’t remove the nonfunctional cars or trucks, the City should stop requiring owners to drain the fluids and sign releases and other paperwork, Andersen ventured.
“Just drive by and start taking them to the dump—do away with the paperwork—no paper, no messing around with you guys,” he said.
The Council attempted to tinker with the ordinance to get it cranked up and out of the agenda. It stalled.
Nah, said Green. “We need to redo the ordinance.”
The Council voted to postpone the measure pending new information and clarification.
“We need a new procedure,” Andersen quipped. “If we spend 30 minutes on an item, we need to kick it ahead to another time.”
A resolution on municipal elections passed readily and bore good news for election judges and election clerks who spend long hours at Old St. Joe’s overseeing Nome’s voting on officials, referendums and initiatives. The Council gave them a raise.
The measure on the table affirmed appointments of the following to Jill Nederhood, chairwoman and judge; Erin Lillie, inspector judge; James Ferguson, judge; Shirley Tisdale, Evelyn Omiak, Zack Davies, clerks. The proposed resolution set the rate of pay at a measly $11 per hour for judges and $10.50 per hour for clerks.
“I think we’re entrusting a lot to these individuals,” Brown said. “I’d like to recognize them with a little more than $11 an hour— $20 an hour for judges and $19.50 for clerks.”
Everybody on the Council voted “Yes.”
During Council comments, Tom Sparks, whose term will expire in a little over a month, announced that he would not seek another term, due to medical maintenance coming up plus his work. He was announcing early, he said, in case someone else was interested in running.
“I’ve enjoyed my time on Council. I need a break,” Sparks said.
Sparks served a number of years including service as chairman of the Nome Planning Commission prior to winning his Council seat.  
“Thank you from the community. You’re cool and a good friend for a long time,” Mayor Richard Beneville remarked.
Beneville, on the other hand, declared an intention to seek a second term in the October municipal election.  During his report he relayed compliments from the staff managing tour ship Crystal Serenity’s call at Nome’s harbor Aug. 20. A Norwegian company has plans for its new vessel Roald Amundsen to visit in 2019.


The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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