• City council meets 5 p.m. for a workshop on Main Street – regular meeting at 6 p.m. in the city council chambers at Homer City Hall
In the works is a $3 million loan to the City of Homer from the Kenai Peninsula Borough for helping to pay for Homer Area Natural Gas distribution lines to homes. Mayor Mike Navarre and Assemblyman Bill Smith introduced an ordinance at the last borough meeting that proposed the loan, which goes up for a vote at the Feb. 5 borough meeting. In the same ordinance, Kachemak City would borrow $300,000 for the same purposes for its residents. The measure would need to be passed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.
Homer City Manager Walt Wrede told the Homer City Council this week in a memo that a loan agreement is in the draft stage. This lower interest loan is a better deal, available through the borough, rather than more expensive private lenders. In case that plan falls through, City Finance Director Regina Mauras is researching private lenders.
The money would help the city finance construction of the distribution system to homes.
Ordinance 13-01: Another gasline measure: This one will, if passed, grant the city the ability to give deferrals to low income property owners. That means qualified individuals would not have to pay a special assessment of $3,200 for 10 years. But when the property is sold, the entire $3,200 would become due by the new owners. That comes up for a second hearing Jan. 28.
This meeting is also a chance to speak your mind about concerns on the plan for creating a Homer Special Assessment District, called HSAD or SAD.
Sales tax is back
The council is also considering a measure that would restore winter sales tax on groceries. Ordinance 12-53 was originally proposed by Councilman Bryan Zak to raise more than $700,000 in sales tax revenue that could be used for city services and non profits. But it was narrowly voted down in December at the last council meeting of the year by one vote. Councilman James Dolma, whose ‘no’ vote made for the deciding factor, asked for a reconsideration.
If council members vote ‘yes’ to reconsider the matter, the matter again will be put to a vote. If it passes, the city could immediately begin collecting the sales tax. This would raise taxes from 3 cents on the dollar to 7.5 cents on the dollar whenever food is purchased.
Want Main Street fixed?
At a work session beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, the council will take up a discussion on how to proceed with the intersection deemed the most dangerous in town at Sterling Highway and Main Street. Since the Alaska Department of Transportation owns and maintains both roadways, it’s not the City of Homer’s responsibility to find a solution. But the problem is that given the long process ahead from conception to design, Homer could be sitting at the red light four years when it comes to waiting for a traffic signal. Also among the needs is a safe trail for pedestrians who frequently walk up Main Street to downtown.
Up for discussion is what to do in the meantime?
The city has $2 million to add to the DOT’s budget for either building a round about or a three-way traffic light or a blinking light.
Homer Police Chief Mark Robl pulled the vehicle accident statistics going back eight years at Main and Sterling. The intersection has averaged at least one serious accident with injuries each year. “That may not sound alarming, but compared to other intersections, it is the most dangerous in town,” Robl told the Homer Tribune. “We’ve watched it and we see a lot of close calls.”
What do you think should be the solution?
Jo Johnson for City Manager
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