Ketchikan’s City Council will consider a one-month extension of its COVID-19 emergency declaration at its next meeting Thursday.
The community’s existing declaration is set to expire July 1; the proposal would push that date out to August 1. The declaration gives the city manager broad authority to use city resources to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notably absent from the agenda, though, is a proposal to shutter or withdraw the city’s support for the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center. The EOC, as it’s known, is responsible for coordinating the local pandemic response and is a joint operation of Ketchikan’s city and borough governments, along with officials from the city of Saxman.
Council Member Riley Gass requested the council consider the future of the EOC after a lengthy discussion at the council’s last meeting, but he says now, shutting it down seems unnecessary.
“I think what a lot of people were hoping would happen actually has happened in the last couple of weeks,” Gass said in a phone interview Wednesday.
That’s a reference to the fact that many city and borough facilities have reopened to the public following a decline in COVID-19 cases. That means baseball fields are open to Little League teams, and residents can once again use the rec center’s weights and cardio machines.
Gass told KRBD he supports the EOC’s continuing efforts to share information about COVID-19 cases with the community members.
In other business, the council is scheduled to consider a slight property tax hike to balance the city’s books. City finance officials propose raising the city’s property tax by 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That would bring the city property tax rate to 6.7 mills.
Though property values assessed by the borough are up slightly from last year, the number of people claiming an exemption for seniors increased. That means the city’s overall property tax base shrank by about 0.2%.
Finance officials say sticking with the current 6.6 mill rate would reduce city revenues by about $100,000. The proposed 0.1 mill increase would raise just shy of $87,000 for city coffers and would cost the owner of a $300,000 home an extra $30 on their taxes.
Ketchikan’s City Council is set to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Ted Ferry Civic Center. The meeting is also live-streamed at the city’s website. The public will have a chance to weigh in at the beginning of the meeting.