The Haines Borough is on track to provide about $60,000 to local nonprofits this year. The allocations have occurred annually for years. But last month, nonprofits were left in limbo when a borough assembly motion to activate the process was tabled. At a meeting Tuesday, the assembly revisited the subject and voted to move forward with the allocations.
At least half of the assembly members agreed that the borough might want to reconsider whether it continues to fund nonprofits. Assemblywoman Diana Lapham says she’s talked to several citizens about the issue.
“They are generally concerned that the borough is donating to nonprofits when they don’t have a say where their taxpayer money goes,” she said.
Lapham said nonprofits shouldn’t expect to be subsidized by the borough every year.
“It is not to be assumed that it’s available every flipping year,” Lapham said. “It’s not.”
But Assembly member Margaret Friedenauer said nonprofits do have good reason to make that assumption this year. She pointed to $65,000 in the borough budget that appears to be set aside for nonprofit grant funding.
“We have sent the message to the community when we passed the budget that this nonprofit grant funding would be available again,” Friedenauer said. “If we had wanted to change it, we should’ve done that back in April, May and June when we passed the budget.”
Assemblyman Mike Case made the motion in August to table Friedenauer’s effort to address nonprofit funding. But he reconsidered his motion at this meeting. He agreed that the budget makes it look like the borough will distribute nonprofit funding as usual. So, he said the borough should go ahead and allocate the grants. But, it should be last time.
“I’m not gonna in the future allocate any money to nonprofits,’ Case said. “The individual voters and citizens should do it themselves. We shouldn’t be in the business.”
The assembly voted 5-1 to move forward with the nonprofit grant process, with George Campbell opposed. The borough will now advertise for grant applications and put together a committee to vet the requests.
Last November, the borough distributed more than $60,000 to 11 nonprofits. The grants ranged from $500 for Haines Friends of Recycling to $17,000 for the Southeast Alaska State Fair.
The assembly also approved an ordinance amending the code that deals with the borough’s commercial ski tour areas map. The map dictates heliskiing boundaries.
The tourism advisory board recommended changes to code because the existing timeline for changes to the map is too restrictive. The timeline issue came to light earlier this year when two heliski companies submitted map amendment requests.
The ordinance sets up this timeline: every three years, companies can submit amendment requests by mid-April, the borough manager may convene a map committee as soon as possible after May 15, the committee makes a recommendation by Sept 30. Then, the manager will present the committee’s recommendation as well as their own recommendation to the assembly.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the assembly heard from people who thought the timeline should be every five years and those who thought there should be no restriction on the frequency of map changes.
Campbell compared ski map adjustments to fisheries management: a fluid process based on unpredictable changes in nature.
“The commercial fishing industry is a very good example of how management should be fluid and it needs to be fluid,” Campbell said. “And we sort of ignore that with our snow.”
The assembly ultimately stuck with the three-year time frame and approved the revisions in a 5-1 vote.
Then, in a 4-2 vote, the assembly OK’d a resolution to form a map committee this year to review the two pending requests.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the amount of funding for potential nonprofit allocation was $32,500. It is $65,000.