My turn: City should revamp its services

Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Before the October election, the city's Finance Director Craig Duncan said the sales tax was needed to "continue the level of services" (Sept. 7, 2006, Juneau Empire).

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How about getting some higher level of services before wasting $10 million to $12 million on a new Public Works facility?

This project is going to be just like the Lemon Creek police station - another centrally located building that still needs a small office in City Hall.

It was advertised to voters that a police station in Lemon Creek would help with response time and eliminate the need to use the State of Alaska detachment in the Mendenhall Valley. But what did it eliminate? Nothing, the city just moved the office from Sherwood Lane to City Hall. And the police got their station.

Well, now it's going to be Juneau Public Works' turn. It will cost $10 million to $12 million to have a centralized facility in Lemon Creek. Does that also include small stations downtown or in the valley as is the case with the police? How about tractor trailer rigs to deliver equipment to Auke Bay, out the road, Douglas and North Douglas? How much extra time will it cost the city to deliver equipment to these job sites?

From downtown to Ski Street is seven miles. Lemon Creek to Ski Street is 13 miles. Where's the savings? The valley to Caroline Street is three miles,. Lemon Creek to Caroline Street is eight miles. Again where's the savings?

Heavy equipment is not designed to be driven long distances on asphalt. If it was economical and safe, you wouldn't see contractors tailoring their equipment.

A good example of this is what the Juneau Water Utility Division has to do. Its facility is located in Lemon Creek, and it had to buy a trailer to deliver its backhoe to downtown and the valley. But when the backhoe is already downtown, the backhoe is driven directly to the job site. Same happens in the valley. Just as the Street Division does downtown and in the valley.

Why spend $10 million to $12 million just to find out the savings aren't there?

How about a larger snow removal budget so the city doesn't have to use sewer department personnel for snow removal?

How about lowering sales taxes so we don't spend 13 to 15 cents for every gallon of heating fuel or auto fuel? Just think, $2.53 per gallon.

How about lowering the mill rate so senior citizens don't have to sell their property to pay property taxes? Once again, we were suppose to lose $106 million to $125 million of services if we did not vote for the sales tax, and now they want another building.

How about having all the managers and directors take a salary cut to build it? If it saves money, they can get their salaries back with the interest gained. If not, they can use their retirement to pay it off. I'll bet the Public Works director, the finance director, the Assembly, the city manager and his deputies don't think it's that important.

Remember, cutting building maintenance budgets and letting downtown and valley shops get run down does not constitute a good reason to build a new building.

The city should quit wasting money and take care of what it already has.

• Marty Holmberg is a Juneau resident.

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