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City Grants Full Funding To Unalaska Nonprofits And UCSD

Berett Wilber

Once again, Unalaska's public schools and nonprofits will receive the city's full financial support — even as officials worry about leaner times to come.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to grant the Unalaska City School District's $4.1 million funding request for fiscal year 2019.

They did the same for 10 nonprofits, which had collectively asked for almost $1.3 million.

Those figures represent 4- and 7-percent hikes, respectively, over this year.

The nonprofit requests also add up to $75,000 more than the city planned to spend under its funding formula. But Councilor Jim Fitch said it's all money well-spent.

"A community that can afford to support this many nonprofit organizations is a quality community," said Fitch. "It shows everybody that we care and they care about everybody involved."

The grants will help pay for operations and capital projects at organizations including the Aleutian Arts Council, the Holy Ascension Cathedral, and Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence.

While councilors approved full funding with minimal discussion, several expressed concern about their ability to maintain that level of support in future.

Councilor Shari Coleman, for instance, said she’d like to see the Convention and Visitors Bureau use its $200,000 in grant money to become more self-reliant.

The CVB is receiving an extra $25,000 this year to revamp its marketing program and hire a seasonal cruise ship coordinator.

"I'm hoping that with this avenue you go on, you'll actually be able to bring in a little bit more and increase your revenues," said Coleman. "I hope it's self-sustaining."

That hope comes as the city is behind on revenue this year, according to recently released financial reports from February.

Unalaska had only collected half of the raw seafood taxes expected by the three-quarter mark of the fiscal year. The city's projections on sales taxes and investment revenues are also falling short.

Finance officials said the city should still post a surplus by July 1, thanks to conservative expenditures, but they're keeping a careful eye on the numbers.

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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