Wrangell’s Public Safety Building needs repairs. It’s the kind of project the revenue recovery grant could help fund.
(Sage Smiley / KSTK)

The City and Borough of Wrangell lost just over $1.8 million in revenue in 2020, based on a formula provided by the state. 

So, the borough is applying for $1.8 million of a $50 million pot of state money, meant to help alleviate the effects of lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wrangell Finance Director Mason Villarma told the borough assembly at a special meeting Friday (November 12) that the $1.8 million number was calculated by examining the borough’s finances in previous years. 

“Essentially,” Villarma explained, “You submit your audited FY16 general revenues which are reports of our taxes, our PILTs, any investment income and grants not entitled for a specific purpose. You take FY16, FY19 and it generates growth rate, and projects what calendar year ‘20’s general revenue should be. Our general revenues were $5.9 million and it was projected to be $7.7 million. So that’s where the $1.8 million comes from.”

The $50 million available to communities comes from the state of Alaska’s federal pandemic relief money. To be eligible to apply for a share of the funds, a community had to be able to demonstrate more than 10% in lost revenue last year. Based on Wrangell’s projections, the borough lost 23.5% of its revenue.

Villarma says the funds are meant to be used for infrastructure projects — and Wrangell has quite a few: “The eligible expenditures for this grant are infrastructure and could go-to-pay infrastructure spending. So things like public safety building, that kind of stuff are eligible for these kinds of expenses. It’s fairly broad on what these monies can be used for.”

Villarma estimated that about 30 communities across Alaska are applying for the grant funds, which will be distributed through the state Department of Commerce. The state doesn’t specify when funds might be disbursed, but the deadline for communities to apply is December 6, but it’s not a first-come, first-served grant.

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