Our august Assembly is mulling the purchase of two hotels, a former Alaska Club building and the Bean’s Cafe Campus for the sum of $22.5 million – with all the dough, supposedly, coming from Anchorage’s cut of federal CARES Act funding.
The idea, it says, is to combat homelessness.
But money provided to states and localities by the $2 trillion CARES Act carries with it conditions detailing its accepted uses. The expenditures must be for:
- Necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of enactment of the CARES Act (March 27); and,
- Incurred between March and December of 2020.
We are not lawyers, nor are we politicians who tend to live in the law’s loopholes, but we fail to see how spending $22.5 million to buy four properties to deal with what the Anchorage Coalition on Homelessness says is about 1,000 people, give or take, meets any of those conditions. That brings up the next question:
If the city buys the properties with CARES Act money and the feds later object, what then? Will Assembly members step up and pledge to replace the money out of their pockets? Or will they take it from yours?
Will property taxpayers, in addition to shouldering the additional $300,000 removed from the tax rolls by the purchases, be tapped to ante up an additional $22.5 million to replace the CARES money?
We are taking bets.