By Naomi Klouda
Beth Wythe was sworn in as Homer’s new mayor at a special Homer City Council meeting Monday night, and outgoing Mayor Jim Hornaday said his farewells.
France Roberts was sworn in for her third term on the city council, while Beau Burgess was sworn in for his first complete term. Roberts also was named the new Mayor Pro Tem.
Wythe’s vacant seat remains to be filled through an application process. So far, James Dolma, who ran in the Oct. 2 election and took 429 votes, and Sharon Minch are the only applicants. Minch served on the Homer Planning Commission, most recently as chair. The application period closes 5 p.m. Friday.
Hornaday’s eight years as mayor were celebrated in a proclamation, a cake and serenades by the Ukulele Society, which started off with Over the Rainbow.
“Homer is a fun town to represent. I think we’ve done pretty well at keeping to civil discussions,” Hornaday said. “We just approach issues and try to get them done. The town has been good to me.”
The proclamation states: “The City of Homer and its residents thank you for caring, sharing, and the selfless giving of your time and energy. Your wisdom, humor, historical knowledge, and courageous battle of sensitive issues have been admirable. You have represented the City well. As a champion of the environment you fought valiantly for the Climate Action Plan. Your leadership has also succeeded in reducing the City’s budget, property tax mil rate, and increased the City’s financial integrity.
“For this and so much more may you long be remembered as a local hero.”
• A round of three meetings to learn more about the process for gaining natural gas is set for the month. The Homer Natural Gas Assessment District Neighborhood Meetings will be 5-7 p.m. Oct. 16, 17 and 29 at the Homer High School Commons. The public is encouraged to come take part in the discussion and ask questions.
At Monday’s council meeting, an ordinance was introduced to take $50,165 from the general fund to carry out the requirements in city code for establishing improvement districts. This begins the process for figuring out the funding mechanism to gain natural gas in neighborhoods.
It establishes a budget for the HSAD process to pay for certified mailings to go out to each property owner and helps pay for public education.
Resident Larry Slone told the council he would like to see cost estimates for how much it will take to hook up. “I’m referring specifically to costs to get (the line) from the street to the home to the time you turn the gas on,” he said.
Councilman David Lewis said those kind of detailed break-down of costs have many variables and the city isn’t able to make estimates for home owners. “To get the pipeline from the street to the house to the blue flame, I don’t think the city can let you know those costs because there are so many variables. Businesses out there can give an estimate as to what it will cost. But it’s not the city’s job,” Lewis said.
City Manager Walt Wrede has told the council the administration considered working up estimates but shied away completely. “After much hand writing and concern we realized we really shouldn’t be doing that at all. The variables are so large,” depending on whether the house has electric heat, or an older boiler or a new one, Wrebe said.
The council also took action on its 2014 Capital Improvement Plan, which goes to Juneau and to the congressional delegation to request funding for projects. They passed a resolution lining up the projects according to priority:
1. Harbor Improvement Revenue Bond Projects
2. A new Port and Harbor Building
3. Skyline Fire Station
4. Pratt Museum New Facility and Site Redesign
5. Homer Education and Recreation Center Upgrades
6. Homer Tidal Energy Incubator Project
7. Harbor Entrance Erosion Control
8. Fire Engine 4 and Tanker 2 Refurbishment
9. Public Safety Building
10. Barge Mooring Facility
11. Kachemak Drive Rehabilitation/Pathway
12. Brush/Wildland Firefighting Truck
13. Marine Ways Large Vessel Helot Facility
14. Baycrest Overlook Gateway Project
15. Water Storage/Distribution Improvements
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