The Sitka Assembly is meeting tonight (5-19-20) at 6 p.m. in a hastily-convened work session, to review how it may distribute CARES Act funding. 

The Alaska Legislature met in Juneau on Monday and ratified a spending plan for over $1 billion in federal relief funds in the state. Now, municipalities have to come up with local plans.

Sitka’s share of federal disaster relief money is over $14 million. The money comes with strict guidelines from the feds. The funds must be spent on costs incurred from March to December of this year, incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic. And the rules governing how that money is spent could change down the line.

The city has identified six areas it believes fall under the guidelines set forth by the federal government, which are outlined on the CARES Act Funding white paper.

At the city level, the money could go toward first responder salaries for police and fire, or renovating city buildings to allow for easier social distancing. It also could go toward local education to purchase things like laptops and distance software, or food service equipment that allows for dining in each classroom.

The money can also be distributed as financial assistance, to businesses, non-profits, and citizens to offset the economic impact of the virus, and to assist in recovery from losses resulting from the pandemic. 

And it could be used to create and operate new programs, like a homeless shelter or a city food bank, to protect vulnerable populations against COVID-19.

No assembly action will be taken and public comment normally is not taken during work sessions, however the assembly can elect to suspend the rules. Tonight’s meeting is at 6 p.m. in Harrigan Centennial Hall, and is open to the public. You can also watch the stream live on our Facebook page.