Next year’s budgets will be the focus of the Ketchikan’s Borough Assembly meeting Monday night. The borough has been grappling for months on how to prepare a balanced budget given the loss of two cruise ship seasons.

With the unlikelihood of any large cruise ships coming to Ketchikan this year, borough staff are proposing a conservative $55.6 million budget that relies on the use of cash reserves to fund services at their current levels.  There are no cost-of-living increases, and non-essential travel is eliminated.

Borough officials penned a memo saying they don’t expect a return to anything “close to normal” until next spring when cruise ships are expected to return to Ketchikan. And they believe it will take two to three years before passenger counts return to pre-pandemic levels. Ketchikan had been preparing for a record 1.25 million passengers in 2020.

An ordinance approving $48.4 million for the School District budget will be considered separately. Most of that funding is provided by the state, with $11.1 million coming from the borough. The two budget ordinances will be introduced Monday night and brought back for public hearing at the assembly’s May 17 meeting.

The borough assembly is also scheduled to enter into executive sessions to evaluate the performance of its top officials: Borough Manager Ruben Duran, Borough Attorney Glenn Brown and Borough Clerk Kacie Paxton.

The Assembly convenes as the Board of Equalization at 5 p.m. Monday in assembly chambers at the White Cliff Building.  The regular meeting follows at 5:30 p.m.  The meeting is also broadcast on local cable channels and live-streamed through the borough’s website. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.