The clock is ticking on federal coronavirus relief provided through the CARES Act. Any unspent funds left over at the end of this year are required to be returned to the federal government.
Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly will consider Monday how to ensure that doesn’t happen. It’s holding a work session to figure out where to put every last dollar.
The feds gave the borough $10.4 million, and the city of Ketchikan chipped in another $1.4 million. All but about $460,000 of that has been set aside for one purpose or another. Add in another $100,000 left over from a city-run nonprofit assistance program, and there’s a little more than $560,000 left to divvy up.
Borough finance officials have laid out a couple options: One is to put half a million towards more rent and mortgage assistance for people who earn less than about $84,000 a year. It’s been popular — officials anticipate that the borough’s portion of the program will run out of money in December. Applications for that rent and mortgage program are open through Dec. 30 on a first-come, first-served basis.
But there’s another area that could need some extra juice: the borough’s business grant program. In the first round, 213 businesses have gotten grants averaging about $18,000. That’s a total of about $3.7 million so far.
More than 200 companies have applied for a second round of business assistance, which was recently expanded to include more commercial fishermen. Borough officials say they’ll divide whatever’s left among the applicants. That’s currently about $3.25 million, but the assembly could decide to put the $500,000 towards that program instead of rent and mortgage assistance. Applications close on Nov. 20.
Whatever the assembly decides, finance officials recommend that any other leftover funds — at least $65,000 — go towards reimbursing pandemic-related government expenses and paying first responders’ salaries.
Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday by videoconference — in-person meetings are suspended for now, given the COVID-19 spike. Anyone who’d like to speak at the meeting can call 228-6605 before 3 p.m. Monday. The meeting will be live-streamed at the borough’s website and on local cable channels. The full agenda is available online.
This story has been updated with additional information about business grants.