Council approves ordinance clarifying powers to close city-owned spaces; search for city manager continues

The search for a new permanent city manager for Homer continues, with telephonic interviews scheduled for six candidates in early June.

During the last Homer City Council meeting, Human Resources Director Andrea Browning told council members that the city has more applications in the second round of the city manager search than in the first round. During a work session before their regular meeting on Monday, council members selected six candidates from a pool of 45 to be interviewed over the phone. The telephonic interviews have been scheduled for June 9 and 10, starting at 4 p.m. each day.

Members of the council also unanimously voted to approve an ordinance that clarifies the powers of the city manager to be able to close city owned public spaces in the event of an emergency. City Attorney Michael Gatti told the council previously that the city already had this power — this ordinance clarified it.

After receiving written comments of concern from some members of the public, and after some discussion, the council had voted to postpone voting on the ordinance so that it could be updated and made more clear. What the council members approved Monday was a substitute version of the ordinance.

The substitute added the words “city owned” to the ordinance text to make it clear that the city can only close public spaces that are in its possession. It also stipulates that the city manager must have a written finding that it would be in the public’s best interest for a city-owned public space to close before the city manager can actually close that space.

“We discussed some of the concerns with this ordinance at our last meeting,” said council member Rachel Lord, one of the ordinance sponsors. “And so the substitute does clarify public use areas that are city owned and clarifies the written findings, and I think that it is a good substitute.”

Council member Heath Smith proposed an amendment to the ordinance that adds the text “in addition to the written findings, the city manager will provide the conditions that must be met in order to reopen any areas closed, and a projected date of reopening.”

“As long as we’re trying to kind of clarify what’s happening there, I think that there’s maybe some further disclosure that might need to be happening so that there’s transparency and people understand what’s going on,” he said.

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