Assembly to address speeding fines, sales tax and smoking

Posted: Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Juneau Assembly will decide Monday night if smoking should be banned in city bus shelters.

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At its regular Assembly meeting at City Hall, the city also will introduce a number of ordinances, including ones on double fines in highway work zones, panhandling and adding the temporary 1 percent sales tax extension on the Oct. 2 municipal ballot.

Ordinances scheduled for introduction are not open for public testimony and generally are moved for public hearing and action at the next regular meeting, Deputy City Manager Kim Kiefer said.

Smoking is prohibited already in most city-managed areas, but staff wants to amend the ordinance to specifically address public bus shelters, Kiefer said. The existing ordinance prohibits smoking in enclosed public places, enclosed places of employment, vehicles and enclosed areas owned by the city, and commercial passenger vehicles regulated by the city.

"This (amendment) adds to those listed where smoking is prohibited," Kiefer said.

If the Assembly votes in favor of the ordinance, it would be effective 30 days after adoption.

Traffic safety concerns related to the Sunny Point construction on Egan Drive have led staff to look at creating a city ordinance allowing for double fines for exceeding the posted speed limit in highway work zones, Kiefer said.

"We don't have anything on the books that addresses double fines, so that is what we are looking at putting on the books now," she said.

The Juneau Police Department has been issuing double fines for nearly a month in the heavy-construction area under the authority of a state statute.

"JPD has been out there pretty vigilantly," Kiefer said. "Right now they are collecting the fees, and they get passed on to the state of Alaska."

If the Assembly were to adopt the ordinance, the money generated from the double fines would be routed to the city instead. Construction at Sunny Point is expected to last until October 2008.

The city also wants to clarify its panhandling regulations and bring the city ordinance into compliance with recent court decisions, Kiefer said.

"It's just cleaning up the existing (ordinance)," Kiefer said.

If the Assembly adopts the ordinance, panhandling would be prohibited at bus stops, in any public transportation vehicles and facilities, in vehicles parked or stopped on public streets or alleys, in sidewalk cafés, within 20 feet from an automatic teller machine or bank entrance and within 10 feet of any entrance to a building.

The city also will introduce an ordinance to ask voters in the October municipal election to extend the temporary 1 percent sales tax set to expire on Sept. 30, 2008.

"What the Assembly wanted to look at is to put it on the ballot this year, so it would be seamless next year," Kiefer said.

The proposal suggests extending the temporary sales tax by four years and nine months until June 30, 2013, but the time frame is still subject to debate, she said. It is estimated that the extension would generate a total of $40.6 million for the city, which would be used for a variety of capital projects.

• Contact Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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