By Bryan Zak
The recent election allowed candidates and their constituents the opportunity to voice their concerns. The “Homer Voice for Business” burst out as a unified stakeholder and ensures they will be an active partner in communicating opportunities to assist the City of Homer, with the goal to truly be known as a community that indeed is “Open for Business.”
Additionally, groups of citizens also shared their desire for the expansion of the harbor, and for continued support of key community partner projects such as the expansion of the Pratt Museum, recreational facilities, trails and jobs. The future now holds the opportunity to achieve results by listening, building relationships and working together as community stakeholders.
Focusing on the City of Homer’s strategic long-term goals as identified through our Capital Improvement Projects list is the foundation for our community’s long-term success.
Supporting community partnerships and fiscal responsibility, as well as being a good steward of our community’s resources, is an underlying principle that will serve as a roadmap as I work with my fellow council members and mayor to provide the best quality services, infrastructure and opportunities for community stakeholders.
The city council is immediately facing a tough budget development process for which the principle of strict fiscal conservancy has already been established. As a councilman, being aware of how actions at the state level either enable or disable our ability to serve this community is an important component of carrying out our principle of fiscal responsibility and good stewardship.
Two of the important decisions to be made in setting next year’s operating budget will be addressing increased health care costs for city employees and whether to fund a cost of living allowance increase.
The citizens of Homer have clearly voiced they do not want to see the exemption for the seasonal sales tax reinstated, therefore, balancing this year’s budget without removing the seasonal sales tax is something I will advocate for.
Listening to “Homer Voice for Business,” as well as other community stakeholder action groups as they communicate community needs, is important for building positive trusting relationships.
In addition, I will support actions such as assisting nonprofit organizations that bring tremendous value to our local economy by showing support through non-fiscal means such as advocating for resolutions demonstrating council support, as well as my personal involvement on local nonprofit boards.
Addressing issues identified by community stakeholders that are either too restrictive or anti-business is yet another way I plan to work to build collaborative and supportive partnerships that will have the best results in our community in the end.
The city council, acting by itself, cannot achieve results without the support of its community stakeholders. Our community’s economic strength and the ability of the “City of Homer” to provide the core services to encourage its continued economic development requires building and maintaining strong partnerships between the citizens and the city.
It is not an “us versus them” equation, but a “we together” formula that will achieve the best collaborative results.
That being said, there are segments of our community facing challenging times ahead, and it is going to take supportive relationships to sustain both. One of these entities in particular is our local charter fleet that may be facing restrictions on how many halibut each angler is allowed to retain without the addition of paying additional fees. This single action will have a widespread, serious impact on our local businesses.
There are many ways citizens can contribute to this partnering relationship, either through serving on many of the city commissions or committees, the Homer Chamber of Commerce, the Homer Voice for Business, the Homer Marines Trade Association, or local boards of directors for nonprofit organizations such as the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, the Homer Senior Center, the Homer Wooden Boat Society or the Homer Hockey Association.
In addition, I encourage anyone who truly cares about giving back to society and/or their community to consider joining a local service organization such as the Homer Rotary, Lions, Elks or American Legion.
Thank you again for your support during this election and for the contributions you make to the community of Homer.
Bryan Zak is a Homer businessman and returning city council member.
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