Ketchikan’s borough offices are located in the White Cliff building. (Maria Dudzak/KRBD)

Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly on Monday voted to move forward with an ordinance designed to make it easier to vote. It’s also moved to allow property owners to pay their tax bills in two installments. And it’s accepted more than $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding.

Five provisions will be added to election code. Changes include allowing the borough to hold regular elections by mail; and adding six additional days to tally early, absentee, questioned and special needs ballots.  Borough Clerk Kacie Paxton says though precincts will be open, because of the coronavirus pandemic, she anticipates an increase in absentee voting by mail.

“The state is running a precinct-based, in-person election for both the August Primary and the November General and Presidential Election. But we anticipate, and we plan to promote, the absentee by mail option.”

Another provision would allow students age 16 and older to work at polling places as part of the state’s Youth Vote Ambassador Program. Assembly member A.J. Pierce praised the move, saying it likely will encourage more young people to register and vote when they’re 18.

“Having those 16, 17-year-olds being involved on the ground level I think is very encouraging to hopefully turn the tide. And so for this I’ll be voting ‘yes.’”

A motion to introduce the ordinance passed unanimously. It’s slated to go to a public hearing at the Assembly’s July 6th regular meeting.

Also, the Assembly unanimously approved a resolution amending the due date for collection of 2020 property taxes and allowing payment in two installments: on September 30 and March 31, 2021. The measure is an attempt to ease financial burdens from the pandemic and recession.

The Assembly approved an ordinance appropriating $10.4 million of federal COVID-19 relief funding. Borough Finance Director Cynna Gubatayao explained an ordinance is required to accept the money. Appropriation and allocation of funds will be determined later. She spoke about the business relief component of funding. To be eligible, businesses must meet certain criteria and owners need to explain how they’re business has been directly impacted by the pandemic.

“The person filling out the application has to certify that the business has been negatively impacted. There’s a list of reasons that they may have been impacted including state mandated closures of certain businesses, voluntary closure to promote social distancing, decreased customer demand due the pandemic. That kind of thing.”

Gubatayao says the application period for business grants would open July 1st with a maximum award of $25,000. To qualify, a business must have a full-time presence in the borough.

Also Monday night, the assembly approved the Borough Grant Committee’s 2021 community grant recommendations. Sixteen non-profits will receive more than $350,000.


Click on link to see the list of Borough Grant Committee Recommendations for FY 2021 Community Grants: 2021BoroughGrants