Earnings from city’s permanent fund to be given to nonprofits



While the Homer Natural Gas Special Assessment District was the focus of Monday night’s Homer City Council meeting (see story, page 1),
the council also took other actions, including approval of an ordinance disbursing net earnings of 5 percent from the city of Homer Permanent Fund to local nonprofits for the benefit of the community. 

The council set aside $3,554.79 for eventual appropriation to nonprofits.

A motion to allocate that amount to South Peninsula Haven House’s Green Dot program failed on a vote of two yes, three no. 

The money would have been used to help pay training of community members in the Green Dot initiative, a pilot program Homer has been chosen to participate in. Volunteers would learn how to intervene in potential violent situations. 

The “green dot” refers to replacing red dots on a map showing violent incidents with green dots showing incidents stopped.

Mayor Beth Wythe spoke in favor of the Green Dot allocation.

“It sends a message clearly to the Green Dot Foundation that has chosen us as a pilot,” she said of the allocation. 

The council likely will be approached in the future to support the program anyway, Wythe noted, so this funds it without dipping into the general fund.

Although the allocation to nonprofits in general passed, the council reserved action on how that money would specifically go to community organizations. One option in the past has been to give it to the Homer Foundation for it to disburse. 

Wythe said when the Permanent Fund was set up, former Mayor James Hornaday was vocal that the council should be the one deciding how nonprofits benefit.

In other action, the council:

• Confirmed the appointment of city clerk Jo Johnson as acting city manager in the event of city manager Walt Wrede’s absence;

• Expressed its support for the Pratt Museum’s legislative grant request of $2 million;

• Authorized Wrede to apply for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for $75,000 in Karen Hornaday Park improvements;

• Approved travel authorization for Wythe to visit Juneau and the Alaska Legislature on Feb. 26 and April 2 to advocate for capital projects and legislation affecting the city; and,

• Accepted and appropriated an $8,000 grant from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for hazardous materials training.

Former council member Kevin Hogan criticized that $8,000 grant appropriation because the training already had been held.

“You may not allocate funds and incur obligation without voting on it first,” Hogan said.

“You don’t spend money before it’s appropriated. You should really be concerned this is before you in this form.”

When asked by council member Beau Burgess if the council could legally approve that resolution, city attorney Tom Klinkner advised them they could. 

The council has the prerogative of ratifying acts previously taken by people working for the city, he said.

The next regular meeting of the council is at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Cowles Council Chambers, Homer City Hall.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.