Beginning next month, Ketchikan-area municipal governments are set to receive more than $20 million in federal aid. That’s according to Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act, provides $1.25 billion to the state. Nearly half of that is to be distributed to municipal governments.
The City of Ketchikan is set to get more than $12 million in federal aid. Mayor Bob Sivertsen told KRBD that some of that will go towards paying for the city’s direct response to the coronavirus pandemic — the cost of stockpiled supplies, testing machines and such.
“We will have a shared cost, I believe, at the rec center for the homeless shelter, we’ll work with that, there’ll be the EOC cost itself,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
But local officials aren’t just facing higher costs. They’re also staring down the possibility of a summer without tourists and their associated tax revenue.
Sivertsen said the city could need to rely on the fund for years to come as sales taxes — and possibly property taxes — recover from the coronavirus-induced economic shock. But he said he’s awaiting guidance from the state.
“I don’t think we have a clear detail yet as to how those monies can be spent,” he said.
Ketchikan’s borough government is poised to receive more than $10 million. Borough Mayor Rodney Dial said he’s “happy and thankful,” but that he and borough staff are still figuring out how they’re allowed to use the money.
Another nearly $300,000 is earmarked for the City of Saxman, which also participates in the local emergency operations center.
It’s not a done deal. The governor’s proposed disbursements are being reviewed by legislative lawyers to see whether CARES Act funds will need to be appropriated by lawmakers.