School funds, AK museum expansion win approval

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2002

Much was achieved for Juneau in this year's legislative session, according to the local delegation.

"Juneau did do well," said Sen. Kim Elton, a Democrat. "I think it's because Juneau never overreaches. We don't ask for highway funds nobody else asks for."

"Juneau's gotten more this year than we've gotten in previous years," said Rep. Beth Kerttula, a Democrat who worked with Elton and Juneau Republican Rep. Bill Hudson to secure the projects.

The biggest accomplishment, and biggest surprise, was debt-reimbursement authority for a new Mendenhall Valley high school. The "look-back provision" stretched to cover the 1999 Juneau referendum on the high school.

The new high school would be eligible for 60 percent reimbursement of its estimated $49 million cost. House Finance Co-Chairman Eldon Mulder, an Anchorage Republican, suggested Juneau leaders might want to reconsider whether the local investment is worth it in the face of declining enrollment.

"At the beginning of session, I don't think anybody anticipated a debt-reimbursement program," Elton said.

An amendment to the

capital budget Sunday restored $1.5 million toward expansion of the Alaska State Museum. The money will cover land acquisition, site preparation, expansion planning and design.

Other Juneau and Southeast projects include:

• $137,000 for senior housing at Fireweed Place apartments less than half of the $338,000 requested. The apartment complex, which houses about 50 seniors, asked the city in April for a $100,000 grant to help it meet loan payments.

• $20.1 million for a fast ferry to run out of Prince William Sound, $12 million as a down payment on another fast ferry between Ketchikan and Petersburg, and $20 million to re-establish the Marine Highway Fund.

• $5.4 million for a building that will double as a National Guard armory and a recreation center for the University of Alaska Southeast.

• $9 million for the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries to build a fisheries laboratory at Lena Point. The school requested $18 million from the Legislature to complete the project.

• $150,000 for a mobile mammography unit for Bartlett Regional Hospital. The unit will be used to test for breast cancer throughout Southeast. The hospital still needs another $150,000 to purchase the unit.

• $150,000 for planning and design of a new park and swimming pool at Dimond Park in the Mendenhall Valley.

• $7.1 million for renovation of Juneau harbors.

• $1.9 million for the North Douglas sewer extension project. The project will expand sewer lines from the Douglas Bridge to the Bonnie Brae subdivision.

• $48,000 for the Juneau Wellness Court for alcohol and drug abuse prevention.

• $45,000 to help bring the Arctic Winter Games to Juneau.

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