Local News

Wrangell absent from Parnell’s proposed budget

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The Governor’s proposed capital budget for the 2015 Fiscal Year is out. And it’s not looking as good for Wrangell this year as it has in the past.

Governor Sean Parnell released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 on December 12th.

Photo courtesy of http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/press-room/official-portraits.html

Governor Sean Parnell – Photo courtesy of http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/press-room/official-portraits.html

Wrangell did not fare well.

In fact, there isn’t a single Wrangell-specific project listed.

Wrangell is part of House District 33, which includes Ketchikan.

The larger city saw a number of its projects approved by the House, including two transportation and road improvements.

Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore says she would have liked to see some of Wrangell’s road projects make the cut.

“I was hoping that Evergreen was going to be in here—for the construction of Evergreen—but I don’t see it. That’s through the State Department of Transportation – and I would have thought it would be in here if it was going to be constructed in FY ’15 but maybe not…I’m not sure about that,” says Rushmore.

Most of the items listed are state projects. That means a potential shortcoming in funding for local projects in communities around the state. Again, Carol Rushmore:

“A lot of these projects you’ll see in the Governor’s budget are state facility projects. That’s the bulk of what he has submitted this year. What we’re hearing is the funding is going to be very difficult to get special projects in there,” says Rushmore.

But, the lack of projects in the proposed budget isn’t the end-all be-all for Wrangell. Rushmore says there are still some options for securing funding.

“We input information and data about each of these projects and then the legislature has that information. Then, it’s up to the legislators see what they can make happen for their districts,” says Rushmore.

So, the proposed budget still needs to go past the Legislature, which can add or subtract things from the list.

But, because money is tight, so it’s not expected that there will be many additions.

That doesn’t mean Wrangell won’t see any funding in the coming year.

The economic development committee along with the borough assembly has come up with a list of projects it plans to submit.

Numbers one and two on Wrangell’s capital budget requests are both drinking water system improvements.

And, the Governor’s proposed budget includes a chunk of money totaling nearly 3 million dollars for the Department of Environmental Conservation’s drinking water and clean water capitalization grants.

Rushmore says this could be good news for Wrangell.

“That is important to us because we support that the state is contributing toward this funding because that money goes to the Department of Environmental Conservation. DEC also receives money from EPA. But with additional state funding—with the EPA funds—that’s where some of our projects would be funded through,” says Rushmore.

Rather than the money coming straight to Wrangell, Rushmore says, Wrangell applies for funding through these various grant and loan programs that do get allocations in the Governor’s proposed budget.

“So, to make sure there’s adequate funding in those programs will make sure that we have a better chance of getting funded. So you have to look at it in a couple different ways,” says Rushmore.

The top 12 items on Wrangell’s capital budget request list also include funding for:

-the medical center

-the boat yard

-Shoemaker Bay float design

-the carving facility

-the 6 mile mill and institute property development plans

-the pool facility and community center

-public safety

-and Evergreen Road and Cassiar Street improvements.

Now, it’s up to the legislature to review the list and push for changes for their own districts.

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