PALMER — The Palmer City Council failed Ordinance 19-007 that would have established designated council seats, among other regularly scheduled business at its Tuesday meeting.
Councilman Steve Carrington argued that the measure would update the current voting method of an at-large bid with those who receive the highest number of votes winning council seats. Carrington proposed that the council would designate each of the six seats during elections, similar to Wasilla and other city councils statewide. Each of the council members who spoke voted against the measure spoke, noting their belief that the ordinance would introduce partisan politics into Palmer elections.
Julie Berberich, Linda Combs, Sabrena Combs and Pete LaFrance voted in opposition to the ordinance.
The council heard bilingual presentation prior to conducting its business on Tuesday. The nine Palmer High and Palmer Junior Middle School students traveling to Saroma, Japan, for the sister city exchange program gave their comments to the board in Japanese. The sister city exchange program will celebrate 40 years in 2020 with a celebration in Saroma. Heather Kelley, chair of the Palmer Saroma Kai board, presented some history on the sister city exchange. In August of 1977, Palmer’s Edward Holmes made HAM radio communication with Mutsuhiro Ishiguro of Saroma, and Holmes visited in April of 1980. The students depart on Thursday and were anxiously excited for their trip to Japan.
Dusty Silva, Chair of the Palmer Board of Economic Development, presented to the board on the recent meeting of the BED where they discussed allowing marijuana retail facilities within Palmer city limits. Silva said that she had done extensive research to prepare questions for the board discussion prior to the meeting, and that two BED members were not present for the discussion. Silva illustrated the BED discussion on the contentious topic that featured several strong opinions. Ultimately, the BED decided not to present an official position on the economic impacts of the tax revenues that could potentially be collected by cannabis retail facilities in Palmer. The Mat-Su Borough would collect 2% and Palmer would collect 3% sales tax, but Silva said that some members of the BED objected to even having the discussion after the initiative had already been voted down by the residents of Palmer in 2015. The borough legalized marijuana retail facilities in 2016. Silva said that her impression was potential tax revenues would not have a major impact on city revenue, but asked that if the council is interested in continuing discussion, to send the issue back to the BED with stipulations that the BED form a position for the city.
“It’s an emotional issue and the BED didn’t feel it was their place to have that discussion because they aren’t the policy setters,” Palmer City Manager Nathan Wallace said.
The council had voted to rename Roving Vendors to Itinerant Vendors within Palmer Municipal Code in April, and passed ordinance 19-002-A unanimously on Tuesday to show the difference in fee name with the same fee of $50.
Wallace detailed during his report that motorcycle parking and bus parking was added within Palmer, and that he was selected to be on the drafting committee for collecting online sales tax.