COVID-19, rental assistance, tax deadlines topics at Monday meeting

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly will be holding a special meeting on Monday evening on a wide range of topics.

    First up, the Assembly will hear an update on COVID-19 and actions the CBJ is undertaking.

    Following that update, the Assembly will hear an ordinance amending the Continuity of Government Code.

    City Manager Rorie Watt said the code was created in 1962 during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis when communities were concerned about physical attacks.

    "While the underlying concepts in the continuity of government code remain relevant today, like the designation of successors for certain municipal officers, some code provisions are outdated," Watt said. "This ordinance would modernize the continuity of government code."

    The Assembly will also take up an ordinance amending the Civil Defense Code to Improve CBJ emergency procedures.

    The code was originally created in 1967.

    "This ordinance would amend the Civil Defense Organization chapter to be consistent with current emergency management practices and to clarify out of date code sections," Watt said.

    An Emergency Appropriation Resolution, appropriating $200,000 to the City Manager for an Emergency Rental Assistance Program, will also be heard. Funding for the resolution would be provided by the Affordable Housing Fund.

    "COVID-19 continues to change our community," Watt said. "To protect the public health and welfare, social distancing requirements have been implemented, including the closure of non-essential businesses and ordering people to hunker down. Many people who work in businesses that have closed are people that rent. As a result, demand for existing rental assistance programs is up and expected to rise. This resolution would provide funds to support the rental assistance program currently offered by the nonprofit Alaska Housing Development Corporation."

    The resolution was discussed at the Special Assembly meeting on April 2. An opportunity for public testimony was provided at the Regular Assembly meeting on April 6 after which the Assembly continued this resolution to April 13.

    On April 9, the Economic Stabilization Task Force recommended the Assembly postpone action on this item for a week to give the task force additional time to make an informed recommendation. On April 13, the Assembly postponed further consideration of this emergency appropriation resolution until Monday night's meeting.

    As public health officials learn more about COVID-19, we are learning that many people infected with COVID-19 do not show symptoms but can infect others. As a result, the Assembly will take up a resolution urging the use of cloth face masks in public.

    "People are strongly urged to wear a cloth face-covering in public settings, especially where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like grocery stores, gas stations, and retail stores," Watt said. "This recommendation applies equally to customers and employees. If businesses and customers follow this recommendation, this can help the community start to open up."

    Finally, Watt is recommending a borough-wide extension to the sales tax filing deadline.

    Watt recommends the Assembly direct the Sales Tax Office to implement a 30-day extension for remittance of sales tax receipts for the month of March and the first quarter of 2020, but requiring that returns are filed by the standard deadline.

    "If a March or first-quarter return is filed by April 30, 2020, which is the standard deadline, then penalties and interest will be waived if sales tax due is remitted in full by June 1, 2020," Watt said. "The Assembly may direct the Sales Tax Office to implement this extension by affirmative motion to this effect."

    The meeting is set for 6 p.m. in Assembly Chambers at City Hall.

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