Letters

Some facts about taxes

The sales tax in Homer is 7.50 percent, higher than any city in Alaska. The Homer portion of this tax is 4.5 percent. This rate is a full one-eighth higher than rates charged by Seward and 50 percent higher than rates charged by Kenai and Soldotna.

The Homer mill rate, charged on Real Property values, is the highest in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. When applied, net of exemptions, the per-capita real property tax collected by the City of Homer is one-sixth more than paid by the average resident of Kenai, 44 percent higher than Seward, and nine-fold Soldotna.

City : Population : Real Estate Mill Rate : Sales Tax Rate

Homer : 5,631 : 0.450 percent : 4.50 percent

Kenai : 7,745 : 0.435 percent : 3.00 percent

Seward : 2,787 : 0.312 percent : 4.00 percent

Soldotna : 4,617 : 0.050 percent : 3.00 percent

The Homer City Council recently passed an ordinance authorizing a Special Election asking Homer residents to vote to raise their highest-in-the-state sales tax rate even higher to fund borrowing for construction of a Police Station. Further, the council urges residents to vote: YES by their statement “Public safety is one of the city’s most important obligations.” Really?

At the same meeting the council approved a measure appropriating funds for a “public education campaign” ahead of the June 26 election. The council is using a part of the highest taxes in the state to “educate (persuade) the public” to raise taxes on themselves.

Go vote. This election is not about needs of the Police Department, it is about the “priorities” of the city council.

To ratify the heretofore demonstrated priorities of the City Council, vote: YES.

To communicate to the city council the need to reorganize their priorities to “First things First,” vote: NO.

Say “no more” to special elections and “public education campaigns” using more of your funds to urge you to continue to raise taxes on yourselves.

Joe Carter

Vote ‘yes’ on Prop 1 ballot measure

Show support for our police force on June 26 by voting yes on the New Police Station. Our current station is old, unsafe for employees and general public, and out of date. Make sure you vote by mail, absentee or in person on the 26th. Thank You.

David Lewis

Thanks for HCOA scholarship

I would very much like to thank Homer Council on the Arts for its Youth Summer Arts Scholarship and their generous financial assistance in helping me go to Fairbanks Suzuki Institute (FSI). My experience at FSI was very fun and valuable. FSI is a musical institute where I am able to play my violin following the Suzuki method with kids who are doing the same thing as I am. I was able to learn from a great variety of instructors from across the country and improve my musical technique. I took four different classes four hours a day and listened to others perform at recitals. At FSI I had so many new opportunities to learn. I would like to give many thanks you’s to HCOA for supporting me.

Sylvia Clemens

Fry family appreciates Bear Creek Music Fest support

Thank you to our volunteers and sponsors that made the 2018 Bear Creek Music Festival such a sunny success. We raised nearly $15,000 to add to Nikki’s Scholarship Fund that began at $11,500 in 2014. This will bring the fund total to $50,000, well on its way to our goal of providing a full-ride scholarship for future Homer High students.

This event had many glitches along the way. If not for the skilled help of the Bear Creek staff, it could not have happened; thank you.

Thanks to those that purchased tickets, bid in the live auction and bought drinks chips for delicious Homer Brewing and Grace Ridge beer. With your help we will continue to build this into a premiere event you all can be proud of, going to a very worthy cause, and featuring top-tier musicians.

Anyone may donate to the scholarship fund at any time, in any amount. Your support will help Nikki’s Scholarship Fund grow to benefit deserving Homer students. Donations may be made directly to the Homer Foundation.

Thank you so much,

Bill and Dorothy Fry

Grateful for Nikki Fry scholarship

I would like to thank the Homer Foundation and the Nikki Geragotelis (Fry) Memorial Scholarship supporters and donors for their generous contribution to my education. From what I have heard, Nikki was an amazing person, athlete, and member of the community and I am honored to be awarded this special memorial scholarship. I am grateful that there are people who care about the lives of young people in Homer and step up to assist us in our post-secondary education.

This fall I will be attending the University of Montana in Missoula to study forestry and climate change science. I am humbled to have received this scholarship and will do my best to honor her memory by working hard in school and taking advantage of opportunities that arise as I find my way through the next four years.

Thank you,

Andie Sonnen

Paul Banks appreciates Artist in Schools support

Paul Banks Elementary would like to thank Bunnell Street Arts Center, Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Rasmuson Foundation, and Alaska Federal Credit Union for their ongoing support of the Artist in the Schools program in our community. This year we were able to use that funding to support our Preludes Violin program, which brings weekly violin instruction to approximately 120 children in our school.

This program is available to all students, regardless of their ability to pay for an instrument or lessons, and is supported entirely through parent, community, and grant donations. We hope you have an opportunity to hear the Preludes play at one of our future events — it is quite exciting to hear so many little violinists playing in unison. Our artist instructors Daniel Perry and Katy Klann do a remarkable job with our young musicians. Thank you also to the many people in our community who have donated countless hours to volunteering their support for this program. It takes many hands working together to pull off a program of this magnitude, and we appreciate everyone’s effort.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Reinhart

Paul Banks Elementary

Wambach scholarship helps

student ‘Shoot for the Stars’

In May, I received three different scholarships: the Diane Wambach “Shoot for the Stars” scholarship from the Homer Foundation, the AK CASE, and the Homer Rotary Club scholarships, all of which honored my perseverance and extracurricular aspirations, and all of which will be used to help pay for my college education. I would like to thank those organizations for what they do for high school students like me by setting aside money for students who might otherwise have difficulty paying for their postsecondary education.

I’m especially honored that I was the first ever recipient of the AK CASE scholarship. I will use these scholarships next fall when I head up to University of Alaska Fairbanks to pursue a chemistry degree, and hopefully a career in forensics. Thank you to all three of the organizations for providing these scholarships.

Briea Gregory

Hurrah for Mayor Zak

Kudos to Mayor Bryan Zak for proceeding with the reading of his proclamation supporting Gay Pride Month Monday evening outside of the Homer City Council chambers when the city council meeting was cancelled due to a lack of a quorum. I am dismayed that council members Shelly Erickson, Tom Stroozas and Heath Smith chose not to attend Monday’s city council meeting, thereby denying a quorum, and would like to hear their explanation as to why they chose to boycott their own meeting.

Further, I want to express my strong support for Mayor Zak’s proclamation supporting Homer’s LGBT community. Contrary to the opinion of some, tolerance, acceptance and indeed support of all members of our society regardless of there race, color, religious beliefs or sexual orientation represent a core value of the majority of Alaskans and indeed Americans. Mayor Zak’s proclamation supporting Homer Gay Pride Month, which supports Americans who have a variety of sexual orientations, is not neither anti-family nor pro-abortion. Mayor Zak’s proclamation is what is purports to be, pro-diversity.

Suggesting that being pro-diversity is anti-family is both nonsensical and ignores a reality of life, that families are constructed in a variety of fashions with an assortment of members, all of which should be supported and celebrated. To suggest that there is only one type of legitimate family unit is similar to asserting that there is only one kind of person or one kind of legitimate relationship. And suggesting that being pro-diversity is somehow pro-abortion is a non-sequitur in the extreme. Additionally, I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion, but I know many who are pro choice because they support the rights of a woman to make her own biological choices … it’s called freedom … which is a very American core value.

Respectfully,

Taz Tally

City should avoid polarization

My fellow Homer folk,

It has become clear that a nefarious narrative has been strung as to the intent of my absence at the last city council meeting. If we are to sincerely promote tolerance and diversity that needs to happen across the full spectrum of the broad belief systems that exist within our community. There are ways to recognize and honor specific groups without challenging the convictions within others. A diversity in opinion does not have to create winners and losers. True civility is not an expectation of only one side; it recognizes that tolerance in diversity is a two way street.

To label and shame individuals that don’t conform to singularly staged ideals seems contrary to what was being promoted. One must not be so blinded by a pursuit that they find themselves in offense of the very thing they are fighting against.

I did not attend that meeting because I did not want to subject this community to any semblance of what happened the last go around. It was an ugly affair and its results were counter to its intent. To polarize a community in the name of unity should make us take pause and consider alternatives.

Our LGBTQ community is an integral and important part of our city. They are wonderful loving people. And I have no issue with recognizing June as Pride Month or those that wish to celebrate it to do so. Words matter, and my hope is that going forward the city chooses it words more carefully as to not strike sensitive cords that play a very unpleasant tune.

Heath Smith

Democracy requires council members to show up

First I’d like to be clear that I’m speaking as a citizen, not on behalf of the city or Homer City Council. On Monday night, half of Homer’s city council decided to not come to our regularly scheduled meeting. City council needs four members to hold a meeting; by joining forces to just not show up, Heath, Shelly, and Tom shut the entire meeting down. A meeting that, in addition to a mayoral recognition they apparently disagreed with, also included the second public hearing on a massive revision of the city’s lease policies, approving the City Manager to work with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for $45,000 in funds to improve access to the Fishing Lagoon, changes to the “‘RVs on the Spit” ordinance, continued work on the HERC Task Force, etc. City business that matters and which is Council’s job to attend to during regularly scheduled meetings, regardless of politics.

Homer is a town of wide ranging and diverse opinions and beliefs. Our council represents that range, and there is dissent and debate at the table — it’s what council is elected to do, and I appreciate opportunities to hear different views and consider decisions from different angles. Today, I am deeply disappointed in the three council members who took away that opportunity. Council members have a duty to represent the community as we know and understand it. But you have to be there to be part of a representational democracy. When something makes you uncomfortable and you just don’t show up, I believe you are undermining that democracy. To think you can avoid controversy by shutting down the system is naïve.

Many people, representing all opinions on the mayoral proclamation, were justifiably confused, frustrated and angry that their voices weren’t heard, on the record, on Monday night in city hall. This is solely the responsibility of the three council members that took it upon themselves to take away that opportunity for everyone by not showing up and so shutting down the meeting.

We have a structure of local government that I sincerely believe in and respect — with many spaces for dissent and debate, as there should be. I hope city council can move forward productively and at the table, with the public present and participating on the record. In my family, when our kids get upset we regularly remind them that we are “problem solvers,” and we look for solutions instead of dwelling in the problem. I am always open and available to talk with anyone with concerns, thoughts or feedback on any city business. May we all work together, transparently and in the open, towards being problem solvers. May we be looking for positive solutions to conflict and dissent, with respect and appreciation for our beautiful town, friends and family, a working harbor, police, fire, water, sewer, educational opportunities, and a strong local economy.

Sincerely,

Rachel Lord

Like a nurse, council members should show up for work

I moved to Homer in 2005 as a young, out bisexual man. Back then there were only a few other out men in town because Homer was an unsafe place to be anything other than straight. In those early years I had people threaten to beat me up and harass me on the street for being out and open about who I am, and I know that others experienced the same and worse.

A lot has been done since then to make Homer a safer and more welcoming community, and I’m proud of the work that we’ve put in as a town. I’m encouraged that when young LGBTQ people move to town now they don’t need to make the choice between safety and honesty.

I refuse to let that pride I feel be diminished by the cowardice displayed by council members Stroozas, Smith, and Erickson on Monday when at the very last moment they decided not to show up to do their jobs. I’m a nurse and while I may not personally like someone, and may not agree with their politics or the way they live their lives, if they came to me as a patient I would still do my job and take care of them. Because that’s what professionals do, their jobs. And I would treat them with kindness and respect, because that’s what decent people do.

We celebrate Pride because we used to have to live in the shadows in fear for our lives and livelihoods, but now, thanks to those who came before us in this struggle, we can live unashamed and unafraid. That’s despite the fact that people are still being beat up and murdered in this country for being gay. It still takes a great deal of courage to live honestly.

I suggest we should show Stroozas and the rest what courage looks like on the streets of Homer on Saturday the 23rd.

Joseph Lapp

Council members showed poor judgment in being absent

I am writing this morning to express my displeasure over the recent actions of three city council members that resulted in a canceled meeting of the regularly scheduled city council. It is my sentiment that you are entitled to your beliefs as I hope that you will respect the fact that should mine differ from yours, you will accept and respect its legitimacy.

Holding your motivation aside, the manner in which this concern of yours was handled demonstrates poor judgment and a lack of leadership skills. The short notice cancellation of the city council meeting shows a lack of respect for the time of your council colleagues, city employees, committee representatives and the unknown number of citizens planning to testify on issues unrelated to your problem. Your action cost the city money that I wish would be better spent elsewhere. Please think about that when next facing tough budget decisions.

I generally appreciate your volunteer efforts to serve on the city council, but please accept this responsibility with a little more thought and care about the big picture.

Sincerely,

Holly VanPelt

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