After nearly an hour of robust discussion on Monday evening, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly allocated a majority of its remaining coronavirus relief funding to meet the expected needs of its rent and mortgage relief programs for the rest of the year.
In a unanimous vote, the six Assembly members who participated in the remote meeting allocated $350,000 of the borough's $565,695 available relief funds to bolster the rent and mortgage assistance program, which does not have the funding to meet the expected need for the program for the rest of November and December.
Assembly Member Austin Otos was absent from the meeting.
Borough staff had recommended the borough dedicate $500,000 to rent relief, but the Assembly settled on the lower figure after discussing which programs would be served best by additional funding and how much additional funding might be necessary.
A second motion approved unanimously on Monday specifies that the remaining relief money and any unspent relief funds left when the borough closes its last round of coronavirus relief programs will first cover direct costs associated with the pandemic, including the administration of relief programs, then will be used to reimburse first responder wages for the North and South Tongass Volunteer Fire Departments.
All of the borough's unallocated relief funding has come from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. As one of the conditions of the CARES Act, all municipal relief funds must be spent by the end of the calendar year.
Also at Monday's meeting, the Assembly unanimously approved three rezone requests in first reading and approved a pair of budget amendments to cover a radio upgrade project for the North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department and a fire panel replacement project for the Ketchikan School District.
Further coverage of Monday's meeting will be published in a future edition of the Daily News.