A recount of Skagway municipal election ballots Monday shows the senior center bond question passing by five votes.
The Canvass Board counted 228 votes for the $6 million bond and 223 against. Those results are just slightly different than the initial ballot count last week. The board tallied one more ‘for’ vote in the recount. Borough Clerk Emily Deach says that sometimes happens if the mark on the ballot is too light for the machine.
The borough assembly ordered the recount because the margin was so slim.
At last week’s assembly meeting, resident Nancy Corrington spoke out about the senior center and housing project. Her input gave a window into why the vote may have been so close.
“I just think there are a lot of details that have not been really addressed,” Corrington said.
Corrington wondered about the $6 million price tag on the facility, which will include a permanent senior center and seven senior apartments.
“It’s like, oh you want a swimming pool? We’ll get you a swimming pool. You want senior housing? OK, we’ll get you senior housing. It’s just one thing after the next, it’s like saying yes to a child who doesn’t know how to stop himself from requesting because there are no boundaries set.”
Corrington isn’t the only one who is worried about the expense of the capital projects Skagway is taking on. The $6 million bond for the senior facility would bring the town’s bond debt up to about $29 million.
Proponents of the project say grant funding should ease some of the cost.
Borough Manager Scott Hahn said at last week’s assembly meeting that the Skagway Development Corporation was working with a tight deadline to apply for a grant for the project. The Greater Opportunities for Affordable Living grant comes through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
“The GOAL grant has a million dollars in the pot, that’s for the entire state,” Hahn said. “In the pre-application, we said we’d apply for $250,000. But we can request the entire million dollars. I don’t know if that’s very wise.”
Hahn said the development corporation needed guidance from the assembly as soon as possible about whether to move forward with the GOAL grant application and how much to apply for.
Michael Baish is the chair of the senior ad hoc committee, which took the lead on the senior center initiative. When he heard the results of the recount, Baish said he was relieved. He said the close vote made the last week a bit stressful.
“It was tense, yeah. It was scary,” he said. “First time I’ve ever been scared by an election.”
When Baish learned of the results, he was hanging out at the Big Dippers building, which serves as a temporary senior center in fall and winter. Baish says he’s happy to think there may soon be a permanent gathering place for Skagway’s growing senior population.
“[I’m] happy that it’s gonna happen in my lifetime,” Baish said. “Because if it got shot down, who knows when it would start. The last attempt was in ’92.”
The results from the Canvass board are not official yet. They’re set to be certified by the assembly at the Oct. 20 meeting.