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Airport manager hails passage of ballot propositions 1 and 2

Terminal, SREF getting funds from sales tax, bond issue

Posted: October 10, 2012 - 11:00pm

At the Juneau International Airport’s board of directors’ regular meeting Wednesday evening, Airport Manager Jeannie Johnson said she had not expected Proposition 1, which passed narrowly in last Tuesday’s municipal election, to succeed.

The proposition authorizes a $25 million general obligation bond issue to pay for a list of city projects.

“Well, much to my surprise, this community approved that bond, and we’re all delighted about it, but I didn’t spend a whole lot of staff time planning,” Johnson told the board.

One of the largest single items on the bond funding list is the airport terminal, which will receive $6.9 million to help pay for its renovation.

Johnson deferred to Airport Architect Catherine Fritz to explain what that $6.9 million will be used to do for the terminal.

“We will use the $6.9 million to essentially replace the 1957 portions (and) get our essential services, such as water and sewer, to a part of the building that is incredibly deficient right now,” Fritz said. “The restaurants area for water and sewer is not only limited in where they have it, but the capacity of the sewer lines, for example, are just small and not functioning well.”

That section constructed in 1957, according to Fritz, is the two-story piece of the building that includes the airport manager’s office, the Federal Aviation Administration office and the Alaska Seaplanes counter.

“Structurally, the building has been built in chunks, and you can’t tear down part of it without some really serious cost impacts of patching it back together to make it structurally workable for today’s codes,” Fritz explained. “So the logical thing is to take out the whole piece that is affected. So logically, the ’57 piece will go as a whole.”

The $6.9 million will not cover the entire cost of the renovation, Fritz cautioned.

“It’s $28 million to do everything else that we need to have done, in today’s dollars,” said Fritz. “So any time you’re in a renovation, you’re going to do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

Both of the ballot propositions that voters approved this month include funding for the airport.

The five-year extension of the 1 percent special sales tax that passed, by a wider margin, as Proposition 2 will provide $3.1 million in matching funds to go toward the airport’s planned Snow Removal Equipment Facility.

In addition to storing and maintaining the equipment and machinery used to clear snow at the airport, the SREF will also contain about 2,800 square feet of administrative space, including three offices, a break room, archive space, a training room and a work room.

Some of the office space that will be displaced in the airport terminal renovation will be moved to the SREF, according to Fritz.

Board member Joe Heueisen, who was appointed in late August, questioned how the $6.9 million number for the terminal renovation was reached.

Johnson said that originally, $28 million was requested for the airport, but the request was eventually pared back to $10 million. Of that money, it was determined that $3.1 million was needed for the SREF match, and the airport terminal renovation would receive the balance of the funding.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee ultimately decided to put the SREF match into Proposition 2, which was considered likelier to pass, while placing the airport terminal project on the bond funding list.

“We got our $10 million, but we got it in two pieces,” Johnson concluded.

Johnson said she and Fritz will meet with Finance Director Bob Bartholomew next Monday to discuss exactly when the airport will receive the funds for both projects.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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