The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska, is seen here on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska, is seen here on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly approves plan for COVID-19 relief funds

The borough is receiving $37,458,449, which will be provided in three installments.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed a preliminary proposal for how nearly $37.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds will be disseminated throughout the borough.

The resolution, approved by unanimous vote at the June 16 assembly meeting, OKs a spending plan for the borough’s portion of federal and state COVID-19 relief funds. The plan was reviewed and discussed by the assembly during a June 11 work session.

The borough is receiving $37,458,449, which will be provided in three installments that must be used by Dec. 30.

The funding comes with state and federal requirements. The funding may only be used to cover costs from necessary expenses incurred because of the pandemic and costs not accounted for in the March 27 budget or costs incurred during the “performance period” of March 1 through Dec. 30.

The COVID-19 relief spending plan document is attached to the resolution, and lists a handful of spending items with funding ranges. According to the spending document, qualified businesses and nonprofits outside of city limits demonstrating economic hardships would take at least an $8 million portion, and up to a $15 million portion of the borough’s relief funding.

The borough is also planning to use $20,000 to $25,000 as waivers for sales tax penalties.

Central Peninsula Hospital and South Peninsula Hospital are set to receive a reimbursement for the cost of emergency protective measures that aren’t reimbursed by federal agencies.

The borough’s spending document says they plan to reimburse the hospitals with funds between $650,000 to $800,000. The plan also makes $70,000 available to support the volunteer fire and emergency medical service departments around the borough for response and protective measures. The plan sets aside $2 million to $2.8 million to reimburse 75% of eligible personnel costs for COVID-19-related costs for fire and emergency responders in the borough. Between $300,000 and $500,000 is being made available for the borough to reimburse itself for emergency protective measures, supplies, software and hardware, sick leave and unemployment. Between $400,000 and $600,000 could be used for an absentee vote-by- mail campaign.

Between $60,000 and $80,000 could be used for remote meeting integration for the assembly chambers, which include closed captioning features. Between $1.2 million and $2 million could be available to improve public access to the internet by developing a communications tower site and seeking communication infrastructure grants. The borough may also use between $150,000 and $200,000 to retrofit the assembly chambers to accommodate “physical and technological integrations.”

The resolution says approving the spending plan allows borough administration to “move forward” with establishing necessary procedures and documentation to “implement the plan in a timely manner to help defray costs resulting from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”

No one from the public testified on the resolution.

• Victoria Petersen, For the Peninsula Clarion

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