Bryan Zak: Let’s have balanced approach between city, citizens

Homer was once a small community with no road system, no water and sewer, no harbor, no gas line, and many of the modern amenities we enjoy today. In order for those advances to have taken place over the last 50 years, I can only imagine the lively discussions and differences of opinions that took place, but things obviously got accomplished. 

Did the citizens take a more active role in the decision process back then and feel like their opinions were heard and taken into consideration? Do you feel like your opinions are heard today and truly considered in the decision making process? Time and time again people share with me they feel testifying before the city council with their concerns falls on deaf ears.

There will always be differences of opinions, but I bet it would be a breath of fresh air for the citizens to win once in a while so they realize the importance of being engaged and that the system can work. I personally do not find it a burden to listen to the citizens at city council meetings regardless of their intensity and passion. It is my responsibility to have as much input as possible before making important decisions on behalf of the citizens. 

Believe me, I am odd-man-out in discussions many times at city council, mostly because I am determined that both sides of any issue are fully debated and not predetermined. I believe my role on city council is to listen to the citizens it serves and to leave any personal agendas and opinions at home, and not make decisions until everyone has had a say.  The citizens of Homer need my representation for another term in order to maintain that voice willing to force discussion and encourage differences of opinion or you are going to end up with a stacked council with the same opinion. I believe my strategy offers a balanced approach between the “City and the Citizens.” 

There are so many issues that need to have closure, and I promise I will not have
pre-conceived ideas or an agenda in making these decisions. I typically am the one that forces conversation to ensure we have represented all sides, no matter how uncomfortable the situation sometimes becomes for me personally. Some of the issues I would like to see definitive progress on are the sensitive subject of the Sea Wall, the fair and reasonable enforcement of city codes, and yet another is addressing the HERC building to decrease the operating costs and to obtain an agreeable plan for the future. Then, of a more sensitive nature, but very important to the local economy is the proposed catch sharing plan (CSP). One way or the other we should not have our heads stuck in the sand here, but should look at what the economic implications will be either way and create a plan that addresses and prepares for any impact on our community. 

Over the next few months the city council will be addressing the long term increased employee health care costs and at this time they are looking at all of the current revenue streams. What the council has not addressed yet are the expenses. There are two ways to balance the budget, one is to increase revenues the other is to reduce costs.