The Juneau Assembly has approved two new sources of relief meant to help Juneau residents and businesses struggling to stay afloat as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.
Leeann Thomas owns the Triangle Club bar downtown. She said at the meeting that the pandemic has made it extremely hard to run the business her family has owned for 80 years.
“My business was closed for ten weeks due to state and city closures. For two weeks, I was only allowed 25% capacity in my business. For the past three months, I was only allowed 50% capacity in my business,” Thomas said. “And on top of that, in the last month, we have been mandated to close at 11 p.m.”
Eligible businesses must demonstrate the loss of 50% of their revenue due to the pandemic. The grant amount is determined by the difference between businesses’ gross sales this year compared to the same time last year.
The Juneau Economic Development Council will distribute the grants.
Martin Stepetin testified in favor of the individual assistance program. He works in food service for Smokehouse Catering. He said that because of the pandemic, he made half as much this year as he did last year.
“Thank god I’m still working,” Stepetin said. “I’m just happy to have a job, honestly.”
Grants of up to $2,000 will be determined by income level. Dependents under 18 are eligible for an additional $300. Grants will be overseen by Catholic Community Service, which also oversees the city’s housing and utility relief grants.
With federal CARES funding set to expire at the end of the year, Juneau and other municipalities around the country are rushing to spend the remaining money.
It’s still not clear whether Congress will extend the program or pass any additional economic relief.
The Assembly also approved $73,000 in CARES funding for Eaglecrest Ski Area to help with operations this winter and a $300,000 grant to Family Promise of Juneau for additional space for supportive housing services.
The Juneau Assembly will hold a regular meeting Monday at 7 p.m.
Items set for public hearing on tonight’s agenda include $2.3 million in CARES Act funding for local businesses that lost more than 50% of their revenue as a result of COVID-19 and $2 million for individual residents financially harmed by the pandemic.
The Assembly will also decide whether to give $1.5 million to Sealaska Heritage Institute for its Northwest Coast Arts campus construction and more funding to Eaglecrest Ski Area to help with COVID-19 mitigation this winter.
The meeting will be streamed on Facebook Live and via Zoom Webinar. Note: The meeting will not air live on KTOO 104.3 FM.
Details about how to participate in the meeting can be found in the agenda packet.
This post has been updated.