The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly heard funding requests from the Alutiiq Museum and Discover Kodiak in a Thursday night work session.

Alutiiq Museum executive director Sven Haakanson approached the assembly to request matching grant funds to replace the heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system, which controls the humidity and environment in the museum and is a key tool for preserving artifacts.

“Our HVAC system over the last five years has failed on several occasions,” Haakanson said.

Replacing the entire system would cost over $100,000, Haakanson estimated.

The museum is planning to apply for grants from the Rasmuson Foundation and the Murdock Charitable Trust Foundation, but must gather local funds in order to be eligible for funding from those two groups.

Assemblyman Dave Kaplan spoke in favor of helping the museum to ensure Kodiak’s history is preserved.

“This is not a wish list or luxury,” Kaplan said. “It’s a necessity. You have a lot of these collectibles at risk. We can’t play with this or put this off. That’s part of our history. It needs to be protected.”

Assemblywoman Carol Austerman argued that the funding request needs to wait until the borough accepts grant applications from all nonprofits for the year.

“We’re in the process of putting out nonprofit grant applications now,” she said. “I don’t want to see this done outside of the cycle because we’re trying to get this new process in place.”

“I’m not arguing the validity of the expenditure,” Austerman added. “I just think we’re so close to our normal funding schedule.”

The assembly decided to wait on taking action on the museum’s request until the normal nonprofit applications are collected later in the budget cycle.

Discover Kodiak executive director Janet Buckingham presented the bureau’s budget for fiscal year 2014, and emphasized the importance of using the surplus in the bed tax to fund Discover Kodiak, not other nonprofits.

“We’re performing a service for you just like any of your independent contractors are,” Buckingham said. “We are an organization that is self-sustaining. We generate funds. The fact that there is a surplus in the bed tax points to our success.”

Buckingham said Discover Kodiak hasn’t requested increased funding from the borough in recent years, and when it has, it has been declined.

“We have not been aggressive in asking the borough to increase funding and that’s one reason there is a surplus,” she said. “The funding of museums in the bed tax has become entrenched in normal track funding. We’re not eligible for special funding.”

Discover Kodiak requested $100,000 for fiscal year 2014. The funds reflect a $35,000 increase that includes $6,000 for a community map, $10,700 for regular spending increases they can't control such as postage increases and accounting service increases, and $18,300 for marketing program increases to break into international markets.

“When the 500 maps we’ve been stashing are gone, they’re gone,” Buckingham said.

Discover Kodiak requested that the $18,300 and $6,000 be forward funded from the current year bed tax surplus.

Austerman said she thought the $6,000 map project should be forward-funded due to the timing to make sure they are available to summer tourists.

Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at nklauss@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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