Borough Mayor John Williams has asked the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for $500,000 to help meet a projected financial shortfall faced by the Arctic Winter Games Host Society.
Host Society officials reported in December they expected to fall short of the amount needed to put on the Games, which begin March 5, by some $850,000. That news brought in sizable donations from individuals and corporations, and a promise from Gov. Frank Murkowski to include a $500,000 appropriation in a supplemental budget bill, Senate Bill 232. But the supplemental bill is not likely to be passed by the Legislature until after the Games are completed.
“While some of the bills may be paid after the Games are over, most will be due before and during the Games,” Williams said in a Jan. 26 memo to the assembly accompanying the proposed borough appropriation measure scheduled for introduction at the Tuesday assembly meeting.
“I am introducing this ordinance and requesting shortened hearing in order that the borough may provided the funding before the Games with the expectation that it will be reimbursed by the state of Alaska when the supplemental budget is approved,” the mayor said.
Praising the efforts of the host society to raise the necessary funds, the money nevertheless is needed, Williams said, in order to stage the Games well.
There is no assurance that the supplemental budget bill will be adopted with the $500,000 state appropriation intact. Williams recognized that fact in his memo to the assembly.
“It is important to recognize that although there appears to be strong support, funding from the state is not guaranteed until the funds are appropriated by the Legislature,” he said.
Over the course of three appropriation years, the borough has invested some $500,000 in cash plus some in-kind services in the Arctic Winter Games.
The host society has been successful in acquiring about $3 million in capital improvements for the Games through federal and state grants.
Alaska is a founding member of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, has hosted the Games many times since its inception in 1970 and historically has contributed funding for their production.
The proposed $500,000 would come from the borough’s general fund.
A public hearing on the measure is tentatively scheduled Feb. 21.
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