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City aims to save money by consolidating operations

Assembly gives tentative approval to $15 million consolidation proposal

Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Public Works Department has city approval to move ahead with a $15 million plan to consolidate facilities spread throughout Juneau in an effort to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The Assembly Committee of the Whole backed the plan Tuesday but asked the department to bring down the cost of relocating the street maintenance fleet and other equipment. The move is meant to save $800,000 in facility costs each year, plus a one-time savings of $2.7 million from not upgrading current sites.

Public Works Director Joe Buck presented the proposal to consolidate about nine major facilities and some smaller buildings into one 16-acre site next to Alaska Department of Transportation headquarters off Old Glacier Highway.

"It would be so much more effective as communicating with the public goes," Buck said before the committee meeting. "It would be one-stop shopping."

The Assembly's approval allows Buck to pursue land including 11 acres owned by the state that would be transferred to the city. The land has been previously designated for the Alaska National Guard Armory that will now be located at the university. Buck is also interested in an adjacent 5-acre parcel owned by Brendan Kelly of Juneau. That parcel would have to be rezoned light commercial.

Meanwhile, Alaskan Brewing Co. is seeking to expand production and is interested in buying adjacent city land where some DPW administrative offices are located.

The motivation behind the consolidation is DPW's desire to relocate the street maintenance and fleet facility under the Douglas Bridge, Buck said. The 1962 facility is dilapidated, half the size the city needs and doesn't have potable water because of rust in the piping, he said. Once the brewery indicated an interest in expanding, DPW considered not only moving the street maintenance and fleet facility but consolidating the majority of the department.

The project would be funded through the sale of four existing city properties worth $4.8 million; earmarked sales tax revenues of $1.085 million; and an additional $9.1 million in sales tax revenue yet to be earmarked.

It would be built and funded in phases over about a 10-year period, Buck said.

While Assembly members gave approval to move forward, Randy Wanamaker wanted better cost estimates for design, administration and permitting. The proposed $3.8 million estimates are too high, Wanamaker said, based on his experience in the field. Those costs could be shaved in half, he said.

City Manager Rod Swope encouraged the Assembly to back the plan because it offers an opportunity to sell land to Alaskan Brewing.

About $6 million in DPW equipment currently is exposed to the weather, he said.

The consolidation would not include the three wastewater treatment plants, Capital Transit and the Salmon Creek and Last Chance Basin water treatment facilities.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com



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