Stroozas: Sustainable future up to all of us

  • Tom Stroozas

There are many reasons why we live in Homer but a common denominator exists for each of us who reside “at the end of the road” — the majestic and breathtaking beauty that provides a heartfelt appreciation for the wonders of nature and the cordiality of our community.

Homer’s future is up to us; each and every one, young or old, rich or poor. We each have a role and varied opinions regarding our economic and social issues. I have a vision for our community that I will work diligently toward over the next three years as a member of the City Council.

Public Safety — a core government responsibility that requires tax dollar funding to provide sufficient staff and facilities to serve and protect our community. The upcoming election puts the question to the citizens of Homer as to whether or not we approve a $12 million bond to build a new police station; a project that will raise our sales tax until the bonds are paid. This does not include the annual costs to operate and maintain this building; currently estimated to be $144,000 per year, a cost that will only increase with time. The case has been made for building a new facility, and I fully recognize and support that effort, but only at a lower cost. My vision is to spend less on a facility and more on actual public safety. If the citizens of Homer are willing to spend $12 million today on public safety, we should spend less on a building and hire more police officers. We can have both and fulfill the objective of the real need for increased public safety in Homer.

More Affordable Housing — a critical need exists for this hard-to-find commodity in Homer. Homer lacks sufficient housing in the $100-200 thousand price range. As a result, it is hard for younger families to locate good affordable housing where they can grow and sustain lifelong Homer residency. My vision is to create a program whereby the city could work with builders and developers to accomplish this goal through various local and federal tax credits. These credits would then be offset by the sales taxes on goods and services gained by having a growing and vibrant community, while also increasing business and employment in construction trades.

Health care — Homer’s growing senior population will continue to bring healthcare professionals and support staff here to serve their medical needs. These needs will be funded through an inflow of federal dollars through Medicare. The health-care sector of our economy could be further enhanced by developing South Peninsula Hospital and medical center as a “medical destination,” whereby people will travel to Homer for medical procedures for which it becomes known as a national or global leader. We can start by approving the hospital bond on the October 4 ballot that will expand our Homer Medical Center and make the significant ventilation improvements to SPH operating rooms, all without any changes to the current mill rate. These improvements are an important element in developing health care in Homer and thereby improving the quality of life for us all.

Port & Harbor — this city enterprise is a major economic engine for the City of Homer. The Port is a critical asset to attract new industry, create jobs and develop a healthy local economy. The addition of a barge mooring facility (and, eventually, an adjacent large vessel repair facility) will improve Homer’s capacity to cost-effectively serve a variety of large vessel needs. And we must continue to make our port a viable and strategic location for our U.S. Coast Guard vessels. As the Arctic opens up, Homer needs to be prepared to serve the expanding maritime activity in our part of the world, while taking care to do no damage to the critical habitat and environment that makes Homer the special place that it is.

None of us are born with wisdom; wisdom is something we learn along life’s path and it must be channeled to make sure that we make the best decisions. And we must elect leaders who have the courage to make those wise and often tough decisions. I believe my life experience has equipped me with the wisdom and courageous leadership that can help our community grow sustainably in a manner that will be good for us all. I solicit your vote on October 4 so we can work together and make our community a better place to live, grow and create our sustainable future!

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