Murkowski includes Wrangell projects in 500-plus Alaska requests

Funding to repair and rebuild Wrangell’s Public Safety Building is her top priority for federal aid for the community, said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It’s among the more than 500 requests for federal money the state’s senior senator has submitted for inclusion in a dozen different appropriation bills that Congress will consider for the federal fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

The requests from across the state total about $2.5 billion, Murkowski said in an interview May 16.

“Believe me, we won’t get $2.5 billion,” she quickly added.

The 40-year-old Public Safety Building suffers from water damage and rot, among its many other age-related afflictions. Wrangell voters in 2022 defeated a bond issue to borrow $8.5 million to make the highest-priority repairs.

A more complete rebuild has been estimated at $15 million, and construction of a new building could cost twice that much, according to borough estimates.

The senator turned in her Alaska requests over the first two weeks of May, a spokesman said. Senate subcommittees will release their compiled nationwide request lists the first week of June.

There is no guarantee Congress will pass a budget before the new fiscal year and could, as it has done in past years, approve resolutions to continue spending at current levels while members continue negotiating a final spending plan.

“There are so few legislative days between now and the (November) election,” Murkowski said. Holiday and summer breaks will further reduce the number of days Congress will be in session.

The senator said her staff “stayed up late and got up early” to work through hundreds of funding requests from Alaska communities, nonprofits and others.

In addition to asking for funds for the Public Safety Building, she said improvements to Wrangell’s wastewater treatment plant and sewer system also are on the list, along with the borough’s request to open an emergency access route from the southern end of Zimovia Highway across the middle of the island to connect with the Spur Road near the airport.

Inner Harbor improvements are also on the list.

“We focused a lot on water and sanitation,” the senator said of putting together the Alaska wish list.

Murkowski, who has been in the Senate since 2002, leads the work for federal funding for Alaska projects, called congressionally designated spending. Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan has chosen not to submit requests in the annual process, which a few years ago replaced the controversial program of congressional earmarks that ended in 2010.

The U.S. House operates a smaller program for members to seek funding for their home-state projects. Alaska Rep. Mary Peltola submitted a request list totaling about $60 million. Nothing in Wrangell made her list.

Peltola’s request list included $5.8 million for a boat haul-out in Sitka. That community wants to expand its marine services industry but needs a haul-out, similar to Wrangell’s Marine Service Center.

Murkowski said her approach in assembling the list of appropriation requests is to help provide communities with “basic infrastructure,” such as ports and harbors and safe drinking water, so that they can develop their economies.

“We can’t do everything,” she said of federal funding.


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