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Spending Juneau's sales tax

City agencies present project proposals to Finance Committee

Posted: June 7, 2012 - 12:07am

Juneau’s special 1 percent sales tax is expected to raise $44.8 million over five years.

The five-year projection anticipates 2.5 percent to 3 percent growth.

City and Borough of Juneau department representatives presented dozens of ways to spend the tax funds to the Assembly Finance Committee on Wednesday.

Capital Transit asked for $6.2 million for additions and renovations of its operations and maintenance facility. Transit occupied the building in 1985, when it was a decade old.

Requests include $1.85 million for the addition of a six-bus storage bay and $850,000 for replacement of the current facility’s heating system. Transit owns 18 busses, which carry 1.25 million riders a year.

Public Works requested $1.4 million for upgrades to the facility’s metal exterior envelope and $900,000 in total requests for renovations to the facility’s administration and maintenance areas.

The proposal also included a request of $800,000 for electronic fare boxes, Capital Transit’s fifth priority.

The boxes wouldn’t allow for smart cards like Anchorage.

“But it gets us close,” John Kern, Transit Superintendent said.

Docks and Harbors is requesting $7 million for the Aurora Harbor rebuild and an additional $2.3 million for improvements to the Auke Bay boat haul-out facility.

Aurora Harbor is beyond repair, Kevin Jardell Docks and Harbors board chairman, said

“Aurora Harbor needs a rebuild,” Jardell said. The city can’t continue to fix the facility piecemeal, he said. “It is past its useful life and it is a valuable public resource.”

Phase 2 of the Aurora Harbor project consists of replacing five floats. Jardell said Docks and Harbors could scale the project, he said.

“We need to get these things done,” Jardell said.

Proposed upgrades to Auke Bay would include a new boat haul out and kayak launch ramp at Statter Harbor and allow the city to use its new 45-ton hydraulic lift.

“We can complete this, we can put the hydraulic lift into full service,” Jardell said.

Parks and Recreation Department requested $4.71 million for upgrades and additions to its parks and trails. The funds requested would provide for 20 projects scattered around the Mendenhall Valley, downtown Juneau and north and south Douglas Island.

Finance Committee Member Karen Crane said constituents tell her Juneau off-road vehicle users want a facility in Juneau.

”They want a place to go now,” Crane said.

With funding, the project could start as early as the summer of 2013, city staff said.

Mayor Bruce Botelho asked if the $25,000 request for the project would be enough. Parks and Recreation originally requested $150,000.

Parks and Recreation also asked for $550,000 to complete upgrades at Cope Park. These would include new safety features and would designate off leash dog areas.

The department requested $250,000 for work on Marine Park and $175,000 to establish a formal community garden and increase the safety of Chicken Yard Park.

If approved, $300,000 would go to improve Twin Lakes Park. Dimond Park would receive two new score boards and a restroom and concession facilities for $650,000.

Treadwell Ditch trail on Douglas Island could see $150,000 in upgrades including nine new bridges — one being a 50-foot bridge across Paris Creek.

The city plans to contract Trail Mix to conduct the trail upgrades.

Parks and Recreation also requested $4.78 million for projects to recreational facilities.

Proposed projects include $3.72 million to repair Centennial Hall’s 30-year-old roof and $600,000 to replace the Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The museum’s current system does not manage humidity, endangering the collection, city staff said.

Eaglecrest Ski Area asked for $6.2 million for several stages of growth at the snow sports mountain, according to Eaglecrest’s proposal.

Matt Lillard, Eaglecrest’s general manager, said the cornerstone of this proposal is a $3.8 million learning center.

Eaglecrest’s current facility is not up to industry standards, Lillard said. Two new lifts have increased users to the mountain and new space is needed to accommodate them, he said.

“We can expand rental and repair,” Lillard said. “And most importantly it opens up a lot of space at the main lodge to repurpose. We would like to double our capacity.”

The Finance Committee did not make a decision on funding Wednesday night.

“This is one of the most momentous decisions the Finance Committee will make,” Mayor Bruce Botelho said.

The committee informally set the date of its next meeting for June 27.

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

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