By Melinda Munson
“We’re being told it’s going to happen,” said Borough Manager Brad Ryan, referencing the approximate $9 million the municipality expects to receive from the state after Gov. Mike Dunleavy finalized the 2021-2022 budget.
The funds originate from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed by President Joe Biden in March. The portion the state will use to assist Skagway is known as “Seven Ports of Call.” Cities which rely on commercial passenger vessel excise tax (CPV), will be paid what they made in 2019 from CPV, minus any CPV they actually collected, times two.
“When or exactly how” the money will be paid is unclear, Ryan said. He expects the spending restrictions will align with ARPA rules, not CPV requirements.
He sees the funding as “revenue replacement” and cites necessary projects such as Skagway City School’s kitchen replacement, a $2 million project. The school’s kitchen was deemed unsafe last year and converted into classrooms. Since the kitchen shutdown, the school has been preparing bag lunches off-site.
Ryan said so far, he sees the money staying within the municipality for capital projects. According to Ryan, “no one has suggested” using the money to bolster local businesses.
Unexpected capital funds is when Assemblymember Jay Burnham typically chimes in, partially in jest.
“Build a pool. I always say build a pool,” he said.