Want $1,000? Just show that you need it, says Skagway assembly

Cruise ship visitors browse Skagway shops on a May afternoon. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)
Cruise ship visitors browse Skagway shops on a May afternoon. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)

Skagway residents followed last Thursday night’s assembly meeting closely. Dozens wrote, called or attended to weigh in on health, safety and millions of dollars in relief money.

The Skagway Borough Assembly unanimously approved the six-month budget and ended a two-week self quarantine requirement for people arriving in Skagway. The municipality will now follow state health guidelines for travelers. That means travelers who have tested negative for COVID-19 may enter the state without a 14-day quarantine.

Assembly member Dustin Stone has been an outspoken advocate of caution through the pandemic. He doesn’t want the municipality to end its quarantine now, but voted to end it anyway.

“I don’t think Skagway needs us to legislate morality,” he said. “I just ask my neighbors to look out for everyone in town the way you would want them to look out for you. So yeah, I’m going to vote to end this. But that doesn’t mean we should stop doing what’s what’s safe and what’s right. I think Skagway can do it voluntarily. And I have faith in us to do the right thing.”

After lengthy discussion, Assembly Members also voted unanimously to pass a resolution distributing CARES Act relief money. The municipality received an initial amount of $2.9 million from the state at the beginning of the month. The largest portion of the money ⁠— $1.4 million — will be distributed directly to residents in the form of monthly, $1,000 checks.

Qualified applicants must provide two pieces of proof of Skagway residency dated before June 4, 2020. Assembly member Orion Hansen said he wanted proof that applicants have lived in Skagway since before the aid offer.

“What I’m trying to say here is that I don’t want to see people flocking from other Southeast communities to come get money. And I don’t know if there’s a better way to say that, but I don’t want to see that. This is for Skagway. That’s where I’m coming from,” he said.

The money will be available to Skagway residents who demonstrate need as a result of COVID-19. Each applicant will receive $1,000 and an additional $1,000 for a spouse and each dependent. Manager Brad Ryan said residents can expect the first payment as soon as June 18.

Skagway Development Corporation will receive $1 million in relief money. That will fund its business grant program aimed at carrying local businesses through until the 2021 cruise ship season. The assembly will consider SDC’s plan at its next meeting.

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