Editorial: Have a list ready, just in case

It's no secret that the state of Alaska is short of enough revenues to provide the services its communities need. And until the legislature, the governor and members of the public make hard decisions about taxes and the size of the Permanent Fund dividend, there will not be much state money available to flow to cities and boroughs for construction and repair projects.

However, there is always a chance of political compromise that could create opportunities for dealing with backlogged maintenance projects and repairs statewide.

The Wrangell Borough Assembly was realistic last week at its work session on legislative priorities, where they heard from the borough administration that "there is little to no availability of funding for local capital needs." Still, the administration and assembly put together a list of priority projects for state funding "should the fiscal climate change."

Sadly, the list is long: Wrangell's water reservoir needs rehab at an estimated $50 million. Repairing or replacing the Public Safety Building could cost as much as $10 million. The schools need several life and health upgrades, such as the fire alarm systems and high school elevator.

Maybe additional federal funding will come to the state and municipalities from COVID-19 relief legislation. Or maybe the Alaska Legislature will act on Gov. Mike Dunleavy's proposal for a statewide bond issue of as much as $350 million to put people to work on projects as soon as later this year.

Whatever hope there is, Wrangell officials were smart on two counts last week: Don't expect any financial help from the state, but keep a list ready just in case.


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