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Council Considers $500,000 Counteroffer To Clinic's Funding Request

Laura Kraegel

The City Council has taken the first step toward granting an emergency funding request from Unalaska’s clinic.

On Tuesday, councilors reviewed a proposal to allocate $500,000 for Iliuliuk Family and Health Services (IFHS).

Interim City Manager Nancy Peterson said the ordinance would establish a reserve from the city’s general fund.

The island's health care provider would be required to prove its financial need every time it taps into that reserve.

"It’s not providing $500,000 immediately to the clinic," said Peterson. "It’s setting it aside so that if they need it, they can access it.”

Earlier this month, IFHS executive director James Kaech asked for $700,000, anticipating a steep budget shortfall this fiscal year.

He said the city’s counteroffer would be a big help, though, especially combined with $200,000 worth of investments that he’s already cashed in.

But the request hasn’t been approved yet. Councilor Dennis Robinson said the city should consider at other options too.

“Have we looked at a long-term interest-free loan instead of just an outright grant?” he asked Peterson.

The interim city manager said they can explore that idea. But Councilor Dave Gregory argued the clinic won’t get out of the red if it has to repay a loan.

“In the past, the city has donated much more money than this to get the clinic up and going," said Gregory. "It’s an investment in our community, so I think it’s important that we give them this.”

Councilors unanimously agreed to move the ordinance to its second and final reading. They're expected to vote on the funding request at their Nov. 14 meeting.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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