Anchorage Assembly passes $15.4 million relief package for businesses and individuals

The microphone for public testimony at the Anchorage Assembly lights up as a resident...
The microphone for public testimony at the Anchorage Assembly lights up as a resident approaches the podium.(KTUU)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 6:34 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly voted 10-0 Tuesday night to reallocate $15.4 million towards an economic relief package for Anchorage businesses and individuals.

The package was put together in response to Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson’s Emergency Order 16, which restricts and closes many Anchorage businesses. It sends $6.4 million to the municipality’s small business grant program, $7.4 million towards its rent and mortgage relief program, $1 million to a voucher program for essential items, and $600,000 towards a program to hire local restaurants to make meals for those in need.

Quinn-Davidson urged support for the resolution at the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting, but also highlighted the need for additional support.

“We know that 15.4 million will not meet the need that exists in this community,” she said. “We’re doing our best to provide a short-term lifeline while Congress negotiates a stimulus bill; we’re hopeful that could happen as soon as this week.”

The resolution saw wide support from those attending the meeting, both in-person and telephonically, but many also took the opportunity to also criticize the municipality’s approach to economic relief, specifically its speed and the amounts.

“Where’s the rest of it?” asked Susanne Grober, owner of an Anchorage fitness studio, referring to roughly $7 million currently in the municipality’s small business relief grant program. “We needed it in May, we really needed it in October, and now we’re desperate to get it before the end of the year.”

The municipality has reported that many of its relief programs funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act have been oversubscribed, including the rent and mortgage relief program. This resolution seeks to increase the funds in those programs for a faster rollout.

Another item intended to provide relief to Anchorage businesses was an ordinance that would offer property tax relief to businesses shut down by local or state orders during the Spring. That ordinance passed 9-1, with Assembly Member Kameron Perez-Verdia voting against.

A previous version of the ordinance offered a discount between 8%-16%, with a maximum of $5,000, based on how long the business was closed. However, the ordinance was amended to remove the sliding scale and simply set the maximum at $5,000. The discounts are contingent on additional relief funds becoming available from either the state or federal governments.

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