City council needs to consider what community needs to survive

  • By Erik Velsko
  • Thursday, May 4, 2017 9:28am
  • News

I would like to relay my disappointment in the Homer City Council regarding their lack of support for the commercial fishing industry in recent years. I have expressed this very same discontent at Port and Harbor meetings in years past over harbor rate increases; however, I believe it may fall on deaf ears and is never relayed up the ladder.

Recently, the Homer City Council has spent an incredible amount of time forcing personal agendas on local residents as I’m sure every resident can take a side on the inclusivity resolution and city council recall. Meanwhile, local commercial fishing processors are dying on the vine, and city residents and the Homer City Council could care less.

These local processing plants have become staples of the commercial fishing community in Homer, and are essential for local commercial fishing activity to continue. When I walk down Fish Dock Road I see an industry that is struggling to survive. Seward and Kodiak have siphoned off most of the commercial fishing commerce that Homer once enjoyed because they accommodate and embrace their commercial fishing fleets, not bleed them dry with over-inflated crane fees, high ice costs, exorbitant storage fees, etc.

Commercial fishing vessels that come into Homer bring revenue unmatched by any other industry. Dollars generated from local commercial fishing operations are recycled around town multiple times.

We’ve also seen the City of Homer grant sweetheart deals to a large processing conglomerate while they gouge the small, independent buyers. Do multi-million dollar corporations deserve grandfather rights after they’ve changed hands multiple times? This is not good business sense for the City of Homer.

It’s time for the city council to step back, and really think hard about what this community needs to survive. The city council should support a wide variety of industries to ensure Homer’s financial health, or are they willing to give up the local commercial fishing industry? Once the fleet leaves they are almost certain to never return, and unfortunately it may already be too late.

As I’ve said before, it takes a lot of mochas and postcards to match the local spending of just one commercial fishing vessel. I am thoroughly disappointed in all the valuable time the city council has wasted on meaningless proposals, bans, resolutions, recalls, etc. Let’s start thinking like adults and worry about supporting our local industries so Homer can thrive and continue to be the place it once was when I grew up here, and not act like over-emotional teenagers with personal agendas.

 

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