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Finance Committee hears $28 M worth of requests for 1% sales tax funds

Posted: June 13, 2012 - 11:06pm
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Barbara Berg, library director for the  Juneau Public Libraries, gives a presentation for a new Dimond Park Public Library to the City Assembly during a finance meeting on Wednesday. Both public and private organizations made pitches for money from the city's 1 percent sales tax fees during the meeting.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Barbara Berg, library director for the Juneau Public Libraries, gives a presentation for a new Dimond Park Public Library to the City Assembly during a finance meeting on Wednesday. Both public and private organizations made pitches for money from the city's 1 percent sales tax fees during the meeting.

The City and Borough of Juneau Finance Committee heard requests for an additional $28 million to fund projects from the city’s 1 percent sales tax on Monday. This brings the total requests to around $60 million.

The 1 percent tax is expected to bring in approximately $44.8 million over five years.

Dimond Park Library — $4.7 million

A new library in the Mendenhall Valley has been planned since 1983. Already the city library has collected 66 percent of the $14 million total cost of the project, including $7 million in state funding and $1 million from Friends of the Library and $300,000 from the Library Endowment Fund.

The current facility is rented. Rent for the facility is expected to cost more than books, computer subscriptions, online resources and supplies for all of Juneau’s libraries, according to the library presentation.

The library’s $7 million state grant is contingent on the city’s funding commitment, according to a library staff report.

Child Adolescent Mental Health Unit — $5 million

Bartlett Regional Hospital is requesting $5 million in city sales tax funds to build a new mental health unit for state and local youth aged 5 to 17. The total project is expected to cost $23 million —$10 million from Bartlett and another $8 million from government and grant sources, said Laurie Morton, Bartlett board member. She said the unit would be financially self-supporting.

The facility would allow Juneau youth to be treated near home.

The new unit would house 12 beds — six for Southeast residents and two beds to take overflow from Juneau Youth Services. It would also have therapy areas, a learning center, dining area and kitchen.

The unit is designed to help youth with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression, autistic spectrum disorders with behavioral disturbance, eating disorders, impulse control disorders and chemical dependency, according to Bartlett’s written request.

Morton testified to the committee that Bartlett expects to break ground in 2014.

Staff would be recruited before the facility opened. Bartlett expects to hire two psychiatrists with 18 new jobs overall with a $1.5 million annual payroll.

Juneau International Airport — $10 million

The Juneau International Airport is seeking a total of $10 million for renovations and new facilities.

The request includes $3.1 million for construction of a new snow removal and equipment building. The money would allow the airport to take advantage of a $10 million federal match. The project is expected to extend the lifespan of heavy equipment by reducing exposure.

An additional $6.9 million would go to continue work on the airport terminal renovation, one of the city’s older facilities.

“We have now come to the areas of the building that cannot be renovated and needs to be rebuilt,” according to the written request from Airport Manager Jeannie Johnson.

Performing Arts and Culture Center — $5 million

The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council is looking for $5 million for a new performing arts center in Juneau. The current proposed $14.48 million facility compares to a $44 million proposal from 2005.

“We need high-quality performance space,” JAHC staff said during committee testimony. “Space in Juneau now is mostly tied up, dedicated to various specific groups.” Even with high school venues, JAHC has difficulty finding venue space, staff said.

The site plan calls for two mid-sized theaters, one with 220 seats and the other with 330. Two theaters allows for greater flexibility, according to JAHC’s written request.

The facility would measure 19,000 square feet.

JAHC plans to start construction on its new facility in 2014.

Walter Soboleff Center — $3 million.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is asking for $3 million in sales tax funds for its proposed Walter Soboleff Center.

“(The) Center will give community members a chance to better understand Native cultures,” according to SHI’s written request.

The three-story, 30,000 square-foot facility is expected to cost $20 million. Sealaska plans to chip in $1 million, with the rest coming from state and federal funds and individual and foundation giving. SHI is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.

SHI expects to supply 30 full-time, permanent jobs with the new facility and offer retail space for 100 Native artists, according to its request.

The Finance Committee plans to begin awarding funds at its next meeting, tentatively scheduled for July 5.

For more information visit goo.gl/2vZOd.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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