State buildings in disrepair would get spruced up under a $136 million plan introduced by Gov. Tony Knowles today.
The package would authorize $28.8 million for major maintenance of state structures in Juneau and includes $5.5 million for a new National Guard armory and recreation facility at the University of Alaska Southeast campus.
Knowles unveiled the plan today, saying it would be "foolish" to neglect major maintenance needs at pioneers' homes, prisons, office buildings and a host of other state structures. A legislative task force found since the mid-1980s budget cuts have led to deterioration of state buildings, rendering them in serious need of repair, he said.
"Anyone who's had a leaky roof at home knows the smart decision is to make repairs now, rather than wait for damage and expenses to get worse," said Knowles, a Democrat. "It's the same with our state-owned buildings. We can pay now, or we can pay more later."
Under the plan, the state would use a type of bond financing called certificates of participation, said Jack Kreinheder, senior policy analyst for the Office of Management and Budget. The plan would not need voter approval and the debt would be repaid over 15 years with state general funds, he said.
Rep. Bill Hudson said he endorsed the projects outlined for Juneau, but was reluctant to support Knowles' plan when the state is facing annual billion-dollar budget shortfalls. Hudson, a Juneau Republican, first wants to see substantive work on a long-term fiscal plan.
"It's awfully difficult when somebody comes up with very desirable projects and still we haven't solved the billion-dollar budget gap," said Hudson, who serves on the House Finance Committee. "I think that is so awesome, so important, it may become the most significant issue since statehood."
The plan would spend millions of dollars to make repairs to the State Office Building, the Dimond Courthouse, the Court Plaza Building and other state buildings in Juneau.
Projects include such items as fixing elevators in the State Office Building and installing fire sprinklers on floors 9, 10 and 11; replacing exterior windows at the Governor's House; repairing water gutters on the Dimond Courthouse and installing floor drains in bathrooms at the Court Plaza Building to reduce the potential for flood damage.
Major elements of the plan include:
$2 million to buy land by the Alaska State Museum in Juneau to expand the facility.
$5.5 million to build a new National Guard armory and recreational facility.
$12.2 million for repairs and renovations of all pioneers' homes.
$8.8 million for maintenance that has been deferred in health clinics and juvenile justice facilities.
$25.8 million for repairs to adult correctional facilities.
$4 million as the state share of construction costs for veterans' housing.
$5.5 million for hangar construction in Juneau and Anchorage.
$20.2 million for repairs to roofs, elevators, water and electrical systems in facilities maintained by the state Department of Administration.
Kathy Dye can be reached at email@example.com.
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