Finance Committee funds nonprofits, provides for schools

Panel reallocates $110,000 from the Alaska Committee for Juneau School District

Posted: Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Faced with too many budget requests Tuesday night and not enough money to fund them, the Finance Committee of the Juneau Assembly chose to fully fund some area nonprofits and to provide partial funding to the Juneau School District.

"(Nonprofits) create the tax base," said Assembly member Dale Anderson. "If we have no tax base we can't support our community. Without a tax base, without income generating a sales tax revenue, we are lost."

Perseverance Theatre, the Juneau Economic Development Council, Juneau Jazz and Classics and the Southeast Alaska Guidance Association (SAGA) will receive a total of $174,800.

Perseverance and JEDC received full funding for their requests - $50,000 and $105,000 respectively. Juneau Jazz and Classics and SAGA received partial funding - $5,000 and $14,800 respectively.

The Assembly also decided to give a $7,000 raise for Juneau's Washington, D.C., lobbyist.

The Finance Committee chose to reallocate $110,000 from the Alaska Committee, a Juneau lobbyist group devoted to keeping the capitol in town, toward a budget request from the Juneau School District for student activities and pupil transportation.

"If anything is a better capital issue, it's education," said Assembly member Jim Powell.

The city wound up in a tight budget situation last month when Gov. Frank Murkowski cut $1 million in municipal assistance to Juneau. He cited declining state revenues and the need to balance the state budget.

Murkowski later allocated about $560,000 in one-time federal funds to help Juneau cover the deficit. With some cutbacks, fee increases and the use of reserve funds, the city was able to balance the budget. But the money left over to cover additional requests was limited.

The city also had to address the Juneau School District's budget troubles, which were also caused by state cutbacks. The district requested about $600,000 in addition to last year's funding cap to help address a $1.6 million budget gap.

At Tuesday's meeting, the Assembly voted to fill about $400,000 of that request. That includes $110,000 from the Alaska Committee. The district remains about $1.2 million in the hole.

"What this funding means is we will be able to restore some proposed cuts to our budget," said School Board President Chuck Cohen. He added that funding for programs such as activity buses and summer school would be restored first.

Perseverance Theatre will use the city funds to build a $1 million endowment. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York has agreed to match the city's contribution.

"The minute we get this $50,000, Doris Duke gives us another $50,000," said Perseverance Theatre Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "And because of the $100,000, many other organizations will give, bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars in from outside the state, putting Perseverance on a new level."

The JEDC will use $105,000 to continue its campaign to encourage small entrepreneurial efforts in Juneau.

"(We will use the funding) to help expand existing businesses and create new businesses, helping maintain Juneau's economy, which in turn leads to maintaining our high quality of life," said Lance Miller, JEDC executive director.

Juneau Jazz and Classics will use the funds to help pay artist fees, according to Pam Johansen, the festival's executive director. The group asked the city for $12,000 to help cover the cost of bringing the National Public Radio show "From the Top" to broadcast from Juneau.

"I don't think we'll even look at it without full funding," Johansen said.

SAGA is a group that leads outdoor programs for at-risk youth. The funding will go towards its operation.

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