Millions more dollars in federal COVID-19 relief is expected to be allocated to the Kenai Peninsula Borough and its incorporated cities via the American Rescue Plan, according to preliminary data.
Roughly $1.36 billion in federal funding is expected to flow into Alaska, including just over $1 billion for the state government, $45 million for Anchorage, $44 million for non-counties, $142 million for counties and $112 million for capital projects.
The American Rescue Plan, which is more than 240 pages long, was signed into law by President Joe Biden last month and is one of the largest economic stimulus bills in U.S. history, comparable only to the CARES Act, which was passed last year.
The data was calculated by the National Association of Counties, which Kenai Peninsula Borough Community and Fiscal Projects Manager Brenda Ahlberg said Thursday was based on language in the bill. However, because the data are estimates, the final totals may not match exactly.
About $16 million is expected to go to the Kenai Peninsula Borough, which includes an $11.4 million allocation for the borough and about $4.6 million for the borough’s incorporated cities. Of those, Kenai is expected to receive the most money at about $1.62 million. The second highest is Homer at $1.23 million, followed by Soldotna at $980,000.
Ahlberg said that while the borough has heard the $11.4 million figure for the borough floated around “for a while,” they are holding off on making plans for the funds until they get final word on how much they will receive.
“Instead of trying to operate on a bunch of unknowns … we’re waiting to see when the guidance comes out, as well as the amount that the borough truly is going to be receiving,” Ahlberg said. “The projects that will be brought forward to the assembly will be those that will be able to create the biggest benefit for the most amount of our residents.”
Ahlberg said that the broader scope of applicable expenditures for ARP money means the borough may be able to use some of what they receive to make up for lost revenue. That includes things like adding money to their general fund, which was hit hard by the pandemic, or to service area funds.
In those instances, however, the borough would need to be able to show exactly how the loss in revenue figure was calculated.
“In the event that we are audited by U.S. Treasury, one of the first things they’ll say is, ‘how did you land on this number for loss revenue,’ and we can pull up that analysis and all that backup documentation to support that,” Ahlberg said.
Once the borough receives final federal guidance, Ahlberg said, she will likely call the assembly together for a work session to plan how they might want to spend it.
In addition to allocations made for cities on the central peninsula, Kachemak City is expected to receive about $100,000, Seldovia is expected to receive about $60,000 and Seward is expected to receive about $580,000.
Under the CARES Act passed last year, money was passed through from the federal government, to states, to the borough and then to incorporated communities. Roughly $37.5 million was allocated to the Kenai Peninsula from the state under that bill, from which just over $9 million went to the peninsula’s six cities.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.