By Melinda Munson
The Skagway Assembly voted unanimously April 2 to approve 20-12R, a resolution authorizing one-time emergency assistance checks to Skagway residents. Qualified applicants will receive $400 with an additional $200 for their partner/spouse and each dependent.
The resolution is intended to help community members who depend on the cruise ship season, upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Andrew Cremata said he hopes the funds will help families until social safety nets, such as unemployment benefits, begin.
Assembly members referred to the resolution as the Skagway Deal, a reference to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, a collection of social programs implemented in response to the Great Depression in the 1930s.
To qualify for the Skagway Deal, applicants must provide proof of residency with a Skagway voter registration or an Alaska driver’s license with a Skagway address. Borough Manager Brad Ryan said the resolution is meant to aid those who are “physically present and have been residing here.”
The emergency assistance program is for all residents, not just those experiencing financial hardship.
“It’s a type of stimulus for the community. You can apply even if you’re not in need,” said Heather Rodig, borough treasurer. She suggested that community members who are fiscally stable use their payments to support local businesses.
According to Rodig, funding for the resolutions comes from a combination of sales tax and spending reductions in other areas. Currently, the MOS has enough funds in savings to cover operating costs for the next 18 months to two years.
Questions regarding the payments can be directed to Rodig at 907-983-9703 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due by June 30, 2020 and can be found at: www.skagway.org/forms or at the front counter of City Hall. Proof of voter registration can be located at www.myvoterinformation.alaska.gov.
The Assembly was in agreement that this is the first step in delivering financial aid to the community. Assemblymember Orion Hanson advocated for a future voucher system that would ensure any further aid from the municipality be spent within the community.
The second part of the Skagway Deal, Resolution 20-13R, also approved on April 2, establishes a reimbursement program for medevac insurance. Applicants must show proof of purchase between March 1 and June 30. Applications for reimbursement can be found at: www.skagway.org/forms or at the front counter of City Hall. Skagwegians who provide proof of medevac insurance purchase will automatically be enrolled in the Skagway Ambulance Subscription service free of charge.
Those purchasing medevac insurance should be aware that two medevac companies service Skagway, Guardian Flight and Airlift Northwest. Either entity could respond to a medevac request from Skagway. There is no longer a reciprocity agreement between the two medevac services so subscriptions to both companies are recommended. Guardian Flight charges $125 for an annual household policy. Airlift Northwest charges $99. The municipality will reimburse up to $224 for the cost of both policies.