Tonight (5-24-16), the Assembly will consider a proposal to subsidize the utility bills of Sitkans struggling to make ends meet.

When the Assembly meets tonight (5-24-16), it will consider a proposal to subsidize utility costs for low-income homeowners. The ordinance is sponsored by Assemblymen Tristan Guevin and Bob Potrzuski.

Here is the Assembly Agenda for 5/24/16

Guevin pulled the ordinance from two previous meeting agendas to make time for revisions. Namely, this version widens the pool of who is eligible to qualify.

Potrzuski told KCAW he sponsored to ordinance to help Sitka’s working poor, by having part of their utility bill paid for by the city. “Seems like two people making $20 an hour is what it takes in a household to really be able to make it here in Sitka. And I’m not sure all those jobs are out there. So this is to fill the gap, between folks who are really impoverished and can get a lot of assistance and folks who aren’t,” Potrzuski said.

See a draft of the ordinance here: Ord 2016-15.

Under their proposed program, the city would pay some of the monthly utility bill on behalf of eligible homeowners. Subsidization may be revoked any time. Homeowners qualify if they are receiving or seeking assistance from the state or  a handful of programs run by local agencies, such as Sitka Tribe of Alaska and SEARHC. Families with children who qualify for the School District’s Free-or-Reduced Lunch Program would qualify too.

If approved, the city would hire an outside organization to run the program. Potrzuski estimated it would cost $200,000 a year and added, “it might be a tough sell to find money.” He said, “I’m as curious as you are as to folks are going to respond in a year when budgets are tight to essentially municipal assistance.”

The Assembly will also vote to free up funds to repair the float plane dock and meet in executive session afterwards to discuss a legal matter, affecting the municipality and the Baranof Island Brewing Company loans.

The Sitka Assembly meets at 6 p.m. tonight in Room 229 at UAS. Raven Radio will join the meeting live in progress after Alaska News Nightly.