By Melinda Munson

Business owners who lease from the Municipality received some financial relief when the Assembly voted unanimously on July 2 to defer Municipal leases for one year with the passage of Resolution 20-30R.

Many of the leased properties sit vacant, empty of the one million cruise ship visitors who typically stream through Skagway during the summer months. 

The reprieve comes with some effort as the deferment is not automatic — businesses must approach the city with their intent to defer. 

“…The lessees do need to initiate. We’re not just automatically deferring any Municipal leases. If you’re a lessee you have to contact the manager’s office and let him know that this is a process you want to start on,” said Steve Burnham, chair of the Finance Committee.

The deferment period begins on July 2 regardless of when the lessee initiates the process.

“It’s just to try to make that transition a little bit cleaner so that we don’t have to track when it begins and when it ends. But this resolution also allows those businesses to negotiate with the manager about how the repayment occurs one year from now,” Burnham said.

Burnham said the repayment plan could be double payments or an extra percentage each month. The terms of repayment will be worked out between the lessee and Borough Manager Brad Ryan.

“The passage of this resolution also allows for Brad and the attorney to execute the lease amendments without coming back to the Assembly so we don’t have all kinds of lease amendments moving forward,” Burnham said.

Twelve lessees qualify for deferment, not counting Little Dippers, which was closed down by the Municipality at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and is not currently responsible for lease payments.

If all lessees request deferment for Fiscal Year 2020.5, the Municipality would defer $93,201 in payments from July through December of 2020, with the deferments continuing another six months into Fiscal Year 2021. White Pass, which pays the most of all the lesses, would normally be responsible for $63,600 for the 2020.5 fiscal year. Alaska Wireless Network, which pays the smallest amount, would typically pay $600 for the same time period.