Columns from Homer City Council candidates
Arno: Let's encourage prosperity for all
I don’t have all the answers and I surely don’t know everything and we will have our differences but if you vote for me I will serve Homer with an open ear and I will do my best to serve the best interest of Homer.
And when I say “Homer,” I am not just talking about the residents within the city limits because that is not Homer. Homer extends far beyond the city limits.
You will not hear me lecture you that if you do not want to pay more taxes we will have to cut police and fire protection. I will do my best to make Homer fiscally responsible and encourage growth and prosperity for everyone.
Arnold: Let's get city back to basics
First of all, thank you for voting. I’m running for city council because I’d like to see the city of Homer move away from the unnecessary spending and overbearing ordinances that do little or nothing for the citizens of Homer. My goal is to eliminate wasteful spending in our city government and get back to the basics; affordable water and sewer, well maintained roads and emergency services without saddling the citizens with ever increasing taxes.
Lewis: Homer needs young families
Homer has many things going for it. We have great beauty, a good port and harbor, many recreational opportunities, excellent schools and an eclectic population that brings diversity to the city. We have just finished the gas line that will help lower the cost of living. The trail system in town is growing yearly and is making Homer a walking and biking friendly city. We have a harbor that is growing and improving and has a chance to be one of the economic engines helping the city to prosper.
Alas, we do have entities that we are reluctant to fund (Senior Center, Kevin Bell Arena, and a Comprehensive Recreational Program). In most communities these would fall under the governance of the city, meaning major funding for these groups would be included in the city budget. At present, the population has chosen to not have these funded by the city so they limp along through fund raising and grant writing. This needs to change.
In order for Homer to grow and prosper we need to attract young families to town. We need to encourage public and private entities to move or expand here, make port and harbor improvements, encouraging the growth of the Kachemak Bay Campus, encourage private business, expanding federal and state institutions, and in the summer making Homer a unique destination for tourists.
With development in Cook Inlet, Homer needs to become the hub of activity for the oil and gas exploration industry while preserving Kachemak Bay and surrounding area. None of this will be easy or come quickly. But as long as we work toward these goals we should continue to grow as a community.
Lowe: Balanced budget key to city's success
Determining the city budget will be one of the priorities to focus on this fall. Ultimately all city council considerations are centered in fiscal responsibility. A balanced budget with prudent utilization of city funds is the backbone of our success.
Hand-in-hand with developing a budget will be recruiting a new city manager and developing a transition plan in order to lessen the impacts of Walt Wrede’s departure at the end of December.
An aspect of the budget that has a lot of potential for discussion moving forward is community members who live outside city limits. I am not proposing any solutions at this time; a community-wide exploration and discussion regarding different approaches and ideas will be crucial. Two examples where collaborating as a larger community has value are:
• Recreation. When I consider city needs beyond the official core services I recognize that creativity and sensitivity is required. Few people are enthusiastic about the idea of increase in any form of taxation, while many would like to see a stronger recreation/community resources department. We have a great challenge and opportunity to develop a path forward.
• Fire and Emergency Services. Planning a combined Public Safety building allows efficiency as two departments will be able to share resources. Similarly the city and Kachemak Emergency Services can develop a closer administrative collaboration that will reduce duplication of services and equipment.
The Port and Harbor is a key economic driver for Homer. Fiscally sound opportunities to strengthen this exist short term with the Large Vessel Haul-out and long term with harbor expansion and Deep Water Dock enhancements. Currently freighters carry their loads right past us, and then charge extra to deliver it by road from Anchorage. Reducing shipping costs will benefit individuals and businesses across town.
Economic boosts will be realized by those directly servicing these new harbor customers and by attracting extra dollars that will circulate throughout the community multiple times.
It is imperative to plan so that harbor growth will not negatively impact our natural resources or the livelihoods of our commercial and charter fishing fleet, water taxis and kayak guides amongst many others.
Perhaps the Tidal Energy Incubator Project will gain traction and develop into a viable local energy option.
Homer is a community that attracts new people and where people chose to stay. Every individual has a unique list of the particular aspects of Homer that they cherish and value. Many of those lists include the diversity of recreational opportunities here. Overtime collaborations and partnerships have developed to provide this range of activities, often times the city is involved in some way as a partner.
Recreation is one component of a healthy community. MAPP is a successful and varied group of local organizations and individuals that the city has worked with in order to enhance community health and quality of life through strategic planning. One low-cost, high impact success story is the Green Dot program.
I am honored to have this opportunity to work towards strengthening, enriching and sustaining our home.