During Tuesday night’s meeting, amidst some confusion following the abrupt resignation of the City Finance Director, Bethel’s City Council decided in a split vote not to allocate $50,000 generated by previous alcohol sales to the Community Action Grant Fund.
“My interpretation of this ordinance is that it is increasing [the] Community Action Grant by $50,000,” said Bethel Mayor Richard Robb, “which would bring it up to $65,000. And it is taking the $50,000 from the undesignated general reserve.”
He added that the money doesn’t necessarily roll over, and that it would be a brand new expenditure. However, council member Leif Albertson, whom KYUK spoke with after the meeting, disagrees.
“Because we’re behind a quarter on those tax earnings, is it always has to get rolled over, right? And it didn’t. And so, that $50,000 did not get put in the Community Action Grant budget,” Albertson said.
The account currently has $15,000 in it. The grant’s technical review board recommended allocating a bit over $13,000 in grants from the available funds.
Albertson phoned into the meeting while on travel and maintains that the fund was an obligation. He hopes to clear things up on what happens to the fund when he returns to town, and plans to speak with City Attorney Patty Burley.
“I gotta talk to Patty [Burley] about it and see where that leaves us in terms of liability, because as far as I’m concerned that was a promise made to the voters of Bethel and that money just disappeared,” said Albertson.
The ordinance failed in a tie of three to three, with Bethel City Council members Raymond “Thor” Williams, Vice Mayor Fred Watson, and Mayor Richard Robb in opposition.
The council also later approved the funding of a youth camp and partial costs for a “Wellness Programming Specialist” Jesuit Volunteer at the UAF Kuskokwim Campus, which together total $13,872.50 from the current $15,000 Community Action Grant account balance.