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Rural Alaska

Alaska budget cuts will prevent repairs to village school’s water tank

FAIRBANKS - An Interior Alaska school will have to delay repairs to its water tank because of state budget cuts, officials said.

Chalkyitsik school officials said the tank repairs are not feasible after $300,000 was cut from the Yukon Flats School District budget, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Sunday.

The village has a population of around 68 people and is part of the school district administered from Fort Yukon and extending north to Arctic Village and south to Circle.

The state capital budget initially proposed by the Senate included the money for repairs to the roof of the potable water tank, which is 40 years old. The tank is meant to provide water for drinking, washing and bathroom use, officials said.

The funding did not survive the $34.7 million in line-item vetoes in the state’s capital budget signed Thursday by Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Dunleavy vetoed line items equaling $444 million in reductions to Alaska's overall operating budget in June.

“I’m trying to let the dust settle to see what the next step could be,” said Republican state Sen. Click Bishop of Fairbanks, whose district includes Chalkyitsik.

The age and subsequent degradation of the water tank's roof have made it unsafe to use for years, he said.

“This will be going on year four that they’re having to take water out of a water bottle and I was really hoping to get potable water for the kids,” Bishop said.