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BALLOT MEASURE: 3 PERCENT SALES TAX

Posted: September 25, 2011 - 12:00am

The City and Borough of Juneau is asking voters to extend the 3 percent temporary sales tax for five more years.

The city has three separate sales taxes, 1 percent is permanent; 1 percent is a temporary voter-approved special capital projects tax; and the third is also a temporary sales tax, which provides essential funds to core city operations.

Nothing is changing as far as allocation or methodology in the request to extend the duration of the tax, which is split into three tiers.

• One percent is spent on emergency services — police, fire, EMS — and also on libraries, snow removal, street maintenance and parks.

• One percent is spent on infrastructure — roads, drainage, retaining walls, stairs, etc.

• One percent is spent on Assembly-approved capital improvement projects. These typically include water and sewer service extensions, youth activities, emergency budget reserve and other public service options.

City Manager Rod Swope said that each 1 percent amounts to approximately $8 million annually.

Swope said it’s unlikely emergency reserve dollars would be set aside at this time, since the city is at it’s goal of $4 million.

The impact if the measure is not passed would be severe, Swope said.

“It would be fair to say if this didn’t pass, it would be pretty serious for the city,” he said. “That’s the majority of our funding for our general operations.”

Serious cutbacks to emergency services — EMS, police, fire — and essential public services would likely need to be made, though Swope said he doesn’t know specifically what would have to be cut should it fail.

“That would be pretty difficult,” Swope said. “Those are pretty essential health (and) safety services to the public.”

The city also would be limited in the ability to patch potholes and repair streets or other related fixes.

The city and Assembly work through a six-year list of areas they would like to spend the capital improvement dollars. Those items include things like repair and replacement of the roof at Centennial Hall, sports field repairs and replacements, park and playground repairs, pavement management — if streets have potholes and problems and the city doesn’t have enough money to replace it, it can contract someone to go in and repair potholes — street projects including Industrial Boulevard, Berners Avenue reconstruction, Second Street in Douglas, improvements to the road in Bayview, replacement and upgrades to bus shelters, improvements and replacement of ski lifts at Eaglecrest, and many others.

For ballot and related information see: www.juneau.org/clerk/elections.

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