Assembly introduces ordinance for community assistance funds

Unincorporated communities on the Kenai Peninsula will get a little more than $15,000 each for community purposes this year.

Through the Community Assistance Program, formerly known as the Community Revenue Sharing Program, the state distributes funds to municipalities and unincorporated communities for use in public projects. The Legislature approves appropriations from the Community Revenue Sharing Fund each year from an existing fund, supplemented by oil and gas royalty revenues.

This year, the amount distributed to each community will rise a little from last year, when $12,647 was distributed to 27 qualified unincorporated communities in the borough such as Ninilchik, Anchor Point and Hope. A total of $426,303 will be split up between the 27 communities, with each receiving $15,479.41.

The communities determine their own directions for the funds. Some, like Anchor Point, use the funds to pay for unusual purchases at the Anchor Point Public Library, while others, like Sterling, direct the funds toward the community’s senior center.

The amounts have decreased over the years, and last year, the Legislature renamed the program to Community Assistance Program. The sponsors of the senate bill renaming the program wrote in their sponsors’ statement that the intent is to allow communities to still receive some assistance while phasing the program out because of lack of oil revenue and the ongoing state fiscal crisis.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly introduced a budget ordinance to accept the funds, which are distributed to the borough by the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development before the borough distributes them to individual communities. The assembly will hear the ordinance again at its Aug. 15 meeting.

Borough staff will conduct public meetings in communities to help determine the community priority for the funds this fall, as it usually does. The borough has also determined a distribution process for how a representing entity can apply for fudning on behalf of a community, according to a memo to the assembly from Brenda Ahlberg, the borough’s community and fiscal projects manager, who oversees the program.

“Funding will be provided for qualifying projects once a representing entity has completed an application request and grant agreement with the borough,” the memo states. “It should be noted that recipients will be required to submit a report detailing project expenditures and completion before they are eligible to apply for and receive future program funds.”

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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