Sarno: Involve citizens, youth
Families with kids, as well as retirees, support Homer’s year-round economy. It’s a fact that many North Slope workers and Alaskan fishing families winter in Homer, raise families here and support local business. These families choose Homer for our good quality of life: schools, parks, playgrounds, beaches, recreation.
But Homer is unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists. My motto is Safety First! Homer should be safe for kids, families and elders to walk/bike, with trail loops and ramped overpasses. The process begins with walking trails, upgrades to bike paths; ultimately, wheelchairs.
Healthy soil is the foundation of public health. Stop dumping fish waste, use fish waste to make compost, incorporate compost by the ton into local soils, grow tons of local food, build large root cellars, store root crops (carrots, onions, potatoes), improve local nutrition. Food bills go down, public health improves, health care costs decrease. Remember: all true wealth is biological.
It has been my privilege to be Homer’s mayor for the past two years. I have worked hard to represent Homer as a community “open for business.” Actions that I have promoted in this effort include:
• Changes in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) presentation.
• Encouraging a strategic planning session to prioritize projects, determine appropriate funding sources, and develop an action plan.
• Encouraging local business owners to become more involved in commissions and committees that have the ability to influence how businesses interact with local government.
For the past 10 years my commitment has been to improving the financial integrity of the city by promoting resolutions that have resulted in:
• General fund reserve balances compliant with governmental accounting standards;
• Establishing the Homer Permanent Fund;
• Reinstating the Economic Development Commission;
• Reducing property taxes;
• Providing for non-resident users to contribute through a modest sales tax increase; and,
• Budget reductions exceeding $3 million.
Moving forward, the city needs to continue to focus on meeting the demands for public safety and roads that are core services for a First Class City, but we also need to re-frame the conversation surrounding other community wants/needs.
Consideration needs to be given to alternative ways to provide for parks, recreation, community schools and other quality of life desires held by our citizens. The council has taken some actions to recognize the identified need for a community facility for recreation and other activities by providing funding for a needs assessment and committing property in support of a project if a funding source can be identified.
As state and federal funding continues to grow scarce, all alternative sources of funding need to be considered to meet the continuing needs of our community. Economic development needs to take a larger front-row seat in these discussions and I am committed to working with the community towards these goals.