ANB Camp 2 facing wave of debt

Unpaid taxes and foreclosure threaten local institution

Posted: Sunday, October 04, 2009

Juneau's Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 2 Inc. is struggling under a mountain of debt, facing back taxes and imminent foreclosure on ANB Hall.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Camp 2 President Andy Ebona provided some information about the camp's situation, but said he didn't have time to be interviewed extensively.

"We're trying to save our butts down here," he said.

The Internal Revenue Service has filed $144,000 in liens against the camp. It owes about $74,000 to the city for unpaid sales and property taxes.

City Finance Director Craig Duncan said ANB Camp 2 owed back property taxes of $1,700, with the remainder being delinquent sales tax on its pull-tab operation. As ANB is a nonprofit, most of its business operations are exempt from city sales tax, but pull-tabs are specifically taxable.

"We've just had difficulty getting them to remit their sales tax money to the city," an ongoing issue, Duncan said. "They have been delinquent for quite some time, and they've been delinquent before."

Among Camp 2's most pressing concerns, however, is an outstanding loan from First National Bank Alaska for $841,000. The bank has begun foreclosure proceedings on its loan, which is secured by the building's first floor. The building itself also includes condominiums upstairs which are not part of the foreclosure process.

"The customer, in this case the ANB, has the opportunity to avoid the sale by making the delinquent payments," said David Lawer, senior vice president and general counsel for the bank.

The foreclosure auction is scheduled for Oct. 20.

Ebona said the poor economy has hit Camp 2 hard, and it hasn't been alone.

"Like most nonprofits in the country, we're having problems," he said.

The ANB Hall is in the Andrew P. Hope Building on Willoughby Street, and includes the 15,000-square foot hall, kitchen, coffee/pull-tab shop and first floor common areas.

Operating the Hall has been expensive, according to information provided by Ebona, who cited a daily cost of $860 to operate the building. Ebona said Camp 2 has had fewer hall rentals, lower attendance at bingo and increased utility costs.

A compounding factor was that the ANB Grand Camp, which is independent of Camp 2, stopped renting the hall this year for its own bingo games. That had brought in $6,000 a month in rent, Ebona said.

A new rental agreement with another group wishing to rent is expected to help, he said.

That will enable Camp 2 to continue payments to creditors and maintain the building, Ebona said.

Lawer said banking confidentiality rules did not allow him to say how far behind Camp 2 was in its loan payments, but that First National Bank Alaska's goal is always to avoid foreclosure.

"We have no interest in acquiring any property that's collateral for a loan; our only interest is getting repaid," he said.

Foreclosure typically results in a loss to the bank, Lawer said. That is especially true for highly specialized properties such as the ANB Hall.

Ebona said Camp 2 in 2007 refinanced an existing construction loan it had taken out for the initial construction of the first floor space. The money from the refinancing also paid for needed repairs to the building, including replacing the ceiling tiles after the hall went smoke free on Jan. 2, 2007.

"This had to take place in order for the Hall to be competitive in the Juneau market and to make it a healthier environment," Ebona said.

To save money, Ebona said staff has been reduced to two full-time and five part-time employees, along with five part-time employees for Camp 2's own bingo operation two nights a week.

The Alaska Native Brotherhood, along with its partner organization the Alaska Native Sisterhood, began nearly 100 years ago and was a primary advocacy group for Native civil rights in Alaska and elsewhere for decades. Each individual community's camp is organized individually, with the Grand Camp a separate entity from the local camps.

The camps provide social and community involvement, and provide emergency financial assistance to community members as well. Camp 2 members get preference for assistance, but most requests come from nonmembers, Ebona said.

ANB donations to the community have averaged $3,598 per month in the last few years, not counting donations of use of the hall, Ebona said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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