Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly will discuss how to spend millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funding under the CARES Act at its Monday meeting.
So far, the borough has already allocated a little more than half of the more than $10 million in federal funding passed on to the borough. That’s gone toward business grants, utilities relief, nonprofit support, reimbursement for protective equipment, housing and food assistance and projects requested by the City of Saxman. That leaves more than $4.5 million in CARES Act funding available.
Borough finance officials recommend setting aside $530,000 for a residential rent and mortgage relief program. The move would provide funding to those living outside the City of Ketchikan and the City of Saxman who have lost income due to COVID-19. The cities of Ketchikan and Saxman are running their own housing relief programs for residents within city limits.
Borough officials also recommend adding around $100,000 for Ketchikan’s non-profit sector, in addition to $200,000 already set aside. This would match the total funding request from the 21 applications the Borough has received, including one from Rainbird Community Broadcasting, Inc., which owns and operates KRBD.
Borough officials say the assembly could use the remainder to add funding to already-approved programs, reimburse the borough’s and school district’s pandemic-related costs and more.
As of Tuesday, 114 businesses have submitted applications for relief, totaling almost $1.5 million. According to a memo attached to the meeting’s agenda, the Borough expects more applications after tax returns due July 31.
In other business, the Assembly will recommend an ordinance that would allow the Alaska Remote Seller Sales Tax Commission to collect sales tax for online sales on the borough’s behalf. It’s part of a statewide effort spearheaded by the Alaska Municipal League to collect sales tax on online purchases.
Borough officials estimate the borough could see between $400,000 and $1 million in additional tax revenue each year from online sales.
The assembly green-lit the concept last year. Monday’s measure would allow the borough to actually start collecting taxes.
The Borough Assembly meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Assembly Chambers at the White Cliff Building on First Avenue. It’ll be broadcast on local cable channels and at the borough’s website. Public comment will be heard at the beginning of the meeting.