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City prepares to tighten purse strings as fish tax revenues take hit

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Berett Wilber
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KUCB
City Manager Erin Reinders told council members that the recent red king crab closure, and major reductions in the snow crab fishery, will cost the city approximately $2.7 million in lost revenue.

The City of Unalaska is preparing for major budget reductions. At Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, City Manager Erin Reinders told council members that the recent red king crab closure, and major reductions in the snow crab fishery, will hit the city hard.

“At this point we’re estimating approximately a $2.7 million hit to our general fund revenues this fiscal year,” Reinders said.

The city has been scaling back costs over the past several years, but this year will be worse, according to Reinders.

“I fully anticipate this next round of cuts to be more impactful for the organization and the community. We may actually start feeling some of the hurt,” she said.

Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson noted the crab closures and the $2.7 million hit will have ripple effects through the city’s entire economy.

“We’re also gonna take a hit in fuel sales, some of the support industry that’s not gonna be operating and providing revenues,” Robinson said.

Robinson and Council member Shari Coleman also warned that the hurt will likely continue beyond this year.

The city has said they want to diversify the economy for years, but the current loss has increased the urgency.

City Council members have identified one of the city’s top priorities as developing Dutch Harbor as an Arctic Port. Several members are expected to travel to Washington D.C. to promote that agenda.

“One of the things that we have on this list is an arctic port development. That’s something that’s near and dear to me. And it’s obvious that we need to gravitate in that direction sooner than later,” Robinson said.

Council members are expected to examine the city’s budget in greater detail over their next several meetings.

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