The Senate Appropriations Committee this week posted its final fiscal 2022 budget bills that, if passed, would fund about $1.7 million in specific Ketchikan projects.
Metlakatla projects funded would total more than $1.32 million. Klawock would realize $1.22 million, while Wrangell’s sum would be $2.08 million.
The budget earmarks for the Southeast region exceed $33 million, and the region, including Ketchikan and Metlakatla, would share in more than $10 million additional funding directed toward the state.
Another $186 million is directed toward specific projects in other Alaska communities.
Alaska’s share comes to more than about $230 million.
Some Alaskans will applaud the funding. Others will criticize government’s spending. Most will open arms and accept it — should it come to pass.
Three projects would soak up the money to be directed to Ketchikan.
About $1.25 million would be for repairing the decaying Schoenbar Culvert, according to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office. The culvert is needed to avoid failure and discharges of untreated wastewater.
A $236,000 allotment would support the final completion of the new home for Women in Safe Homes, and another $250,000 would be directed to First City Homeless Services and construction of a facility for homeless individuals.
Metlakatla would be accepting $780,000 to improve its solid waste management system. It would allow for the employ of a multi-use portable shredder to reduce the volume of waste.
The other Metlakatla project in the proposed budget is an emergency backup generator for $540,000.
The Klawock project on Washington, D.C.’s radar is landfill infrastructure to comply with new garbage removal requirements. This would benefit Craig and Coffman Cove, as well.
Meanwhile, Wrangell would like funding for a pipe between its water treatment plant and an upper reservoir to increase the system’s capacity. The budget contains $2.08 million toward that goal.
A cool $8 million is in the budget proposal for a new Petersburg hospital.
Projects of interest in Sitka include the Sitka Sound Science Center’s facilities renovation, which would result in space for aquaculture training programs; Youth Advocates of Sitka’s demonstration project to provide services to vulnerable youth experiencing human trafficking, as well as a facility to be used for victims of trafficking, exploitation and substance abuse.
Juneau would like to use budget funds for an Alaska Heat Smart program charged with installing air-source heat pumps in lower-income households; solid waste disposal improvements; a Sealaska Heritage Institute project creating a trailing of totem poles and storyboards representing Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian clans along the Juneau waterfront; and for United Human Services of Southeast Alaska to build a facility that would give quarters for multiple public health and social services organizations assisting the vulnerable population.
Skagway would receive $10.2 million to expand capacity at its wastewater treatment plant.
The proposed budget also contains $2 million for Southeast Conference to establish a pilot program for electric Alaska Marine Highway System ferries.
Even while ensuring Alaska is represented in the appropriations bills, Murkowski is critical of the overall increase in proposed spending — more than 13% in non-defense domestic spending, while defense spending decreases — and the lack of process in devising the fiscal 2022 budget. Her Alaska colleagues in Congress likely share that view.
But the projects for Ketchikan meet critical needs. As others do for Metlakatla and on Prince of Wales Island.