Council extends grace period for gas assessments

Homer property owners who missed the Sept. 1 deadline to make Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District payments got a 35-day grace period. At Monday’s Homer City Council meeting, the council passed on the consent agenda a memorandum setting a new deadline without penalties for property owners who did not pay either the full $3,265.77 assessment or an annual payment of $405.27. The new deadline of Oct. 6 falls after Oct. 1, when 

annual Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends get paid.

In Memorandum 15-153 asking for the grace period, City Manager Katie Koester also reported on the status of assessment payments. She wrote that:

• 1,089 parcel owners paid the assessment in full;

• 1,946 made the first annual payment;

• 17 got low-income deferrals, including some passed on Monday;

• 110 condominium unit owners will be assessed at a later date; and

• 607 made no payments.

At the meeting, Koester updated her Sept. 9 memo, and said since then 70 more payments have been received.

On a motion by council member David Lewis, and in a vote with only Bryan Zak objecting, the council also allowed Mayor Beth Wythe back to the table on matters regarding natural gas assessments. Because Wythe works for Homer Electric Association, a utility that potentially could seek to bring natural gas to Homer, she had been recused from discussion and votes on natural gas issues. Now that the gas line has been built, Lewis said Wythe had no conflict of interest. City Attorney Thomas Klinkner agreed and that she should participate in assessment issues.

Wythe stayed at a table for another natural gas assessment matter, approving the roll for condominium owners. As a result of the Ken Castner v. City of Homer decision in which Judge Charles Huguelet ruled the city improperly assessed condo owners, the council considered a new roll. That one assesses condo owners on the basis of their interest in a condo association and development, not on a per-parcel basis. The council approved a substitute to allow Koester to set a date for when assessments are due, a matter to be decided in discussions with Castner’s attorney.