Story last updated at 2:39 p.m. Thursday, November 7, 2002

Budget, flooding among issues at marathon council meeting
by Carey James
Staff Writer

While the city manager's resignation took up much of Monday's city council meeting, the council's nine-hour marathon session also covered next year's budget, a declaration of emergency and many other issues.

The council heard a presentation from city Finance Director Dean Baugh on next year's budget. Though it was only a preliminary discussion, Baugh noted that while the general fund budget was virtually balanced, it had increased from around $6.5 million to $7.1 million.

The increase, up around 9 percent from last year, was mostly due to the cost of insurance and salaries, though the addition of road maintenance for the annexed area was also a factor.

Council members will have to decide how to deal with issues such as whether they should increase harbor fees to offset costs. Based on the current analysis, harbor fees could rise between 15 and 30 percent, depending on the user group, Baugh said.

The city council passed an emergency ordinance appropriating $281,000 from the special project reserve account to deal with the recent flooding in Homer. A memo from Public Works Director Carey Meyer included $57,000 for repair to the Ocean Bluff Erosion Control Project, but the council opted not to include those costs due to the likelihood of future court action surrounding the failing seawall.

In other news, the council:

* Discussed zoning at the top of Baycrest Hill, as well as other recently annexed areas;

* Reviewed the need for signage on the recently paved area slated to become a skateboard park next spring;

* Talked about initiating new discussions with the University of Alaska regarding land in the proposed town square area.

Carey James can be reached at cjames@homer