The Kodiak Island Borough decided how to allocate two important pots of money at last Thursday’s assembly meeting.
One was the $5.8 million in CARES Act funding, the federal government’s COVID-19 response package, which the group split between schools, nonprofits, businesses and the borough, while also keeping some in reserve.
The other was $126,750 available only to local nonprofits from the borough’s general fund.
As Borough Manager Michael Powers noted at the meeting, this is a significant reduction from past years. Revenue drops and budget tightening at the state and local levels have slashed the amount from $400,000 just four years ago.
The assembly broadly took two different approaches toward figuring out how to allocate the funds. One, championed by Assembly Members Scott Ardnt, Andy Schroeder, James Turner (who wasn’t present) and Duane Dvorak, gave everyone who applied something, but not necessarily to the levels they asked for.
“I think it’s crucial to give the majority something to go forward with. I just can’t support the proposal that only funds the top and eliminates the rest,” Arndt said.
Dvorak noted that having funding from the local government, even in a small amount, can help nonprofits apply for further funding elsewhere.
The other approach, backed by Assembly Members Rebecca Skinner, Julie Kavanaugh and Dennis Symmons, fully funded the “top four” organizations and then gave a few others some money.
The top four groups — Brother Francis Shelter, Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Kodiak Women’s Resource Center and Salvation Army — the assembly has set aside in the past as organizations that are both central to the community and provide services that are in the borough’s scope of power.
Kavanaugh said that the nonprofits that didn’t get funding under her proposal could apply for money through the CARES Act.
But in the end, the group went with the former approach, although it was close. Borough Mayor Bill Roberts had to break a 3-3 tie on the allocation that gave the top four the lion’s share of money. Skinner, Kavanaugh and Symmons were in favor, and Schroeder, Arndt and Dvorak were against.
Then, a subsequent proposal passed 6-0. The final allocation gave the top four $20,000 each and then gave almost everyone else a chunk of what they asked for.
Monte Hawver of Brother Francis Shelter, one of the essential nonprofits, said he was grateful to get the money, but it was only a fraction of what the shelter had received in the past.
“It always hurts to lose money, and if you look at our records, we got as high as $70,000 just a handful of years ago,” he said. “We’ve still got the same operation going and if you look at the cost of living, that has gone up and our borough income went down. They’re both going in the wrong direction.”
He said the shelter might be able to fill in some of those gaps with CARES money.
“The problem with CARES money is that it’s very specific and there’s a lot of ambiguity as to what it covers. One of the things it does cover is lost revenue … and this appears to come under lost funding,” Hawver said.
Another issue is that the CARES money has to be spent by December, but the shelter, like everyone else, has expenses every month.
“I’ve done this 29 years and this is as weird as it gets,” Hawver said.
The breakdown of the rest of the money was as follows: Alutiiq Museum $4,000, Hope Community Resources $3,100, Hospice and Palliative Care $3,100, Humane Society $3,100, KAMP $4,750, KANA WIC Program $3,100, KMXT $4,000, Kodiak Arts Council $3,100, Kodiak Red Cross $3,100, Kodiak Rodeo and State Fair $4,000, Kodiak Soil and Water $3,100, Kodiak Maritime Museum $4,000, RuRAL CAP $3,100 and St. Paul Preschool $1,200.