Assembly mulls over $15 million in bonds

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2002

The Juneau Assembly is considering a $15 million general obligation bond proposition for the October ballot to fund city harbors, water and sewer improvements and the Eaglecrest Ski Area.

The idea is scheduled for more discussion at meetings next month. The measure would need to be finalized in August to go on the ballot for the city's Oct. 1 election, according to city staff.

Under a proposal forwarded to the full Assembly by the city's Public Works and Facilities Committee on Wednesday, the bulk of the bond money would go to harbors. The current plan would earmark $3.25 million for a commercial-vessel loading facility at Auke Bay, $3.5 million for Douglas Harbor moorage floats, and $2.5 million to reconfigure moorage at the Aurora and Harris harbors downtown.

The list also includes $2.2 million for a water line to North Tee Harbor, $1.5 million for sewer improvements at Third Street in Douglas, and $1.1 million to extend water and sewer lines at Juneau Airport. Another $150,000 to develop a park in West Juneau and $805,000 for food service upgrades at the Eaglecrest lodge also are in the plan.

At the request of Assembly members, city staff came up with a $50 million list of projects that could benefit from the bond package. Assembly member Don Etheridge, who offered a narrowed-down, $15 million list on Wednesday, said he wanted to put the focus on harbors.

"It's a major recreational use in this city and it's one of them that's lacking the most right now," he said.

Water and sewer improvements also are needed desperately in the community, Etheridge added.

"Third Street in Douglas is a ticking-time bomb," he said.

The city's Docks and Harbors Department launched a series of public meetings about the Auke Bay vessel loading facility on Thursday. The project's aim is to separate commercial users from Statter Harbor and reduce congestion in the area, city Port Director Joe Graham said. A site has not been selected. The facility likely would serve commercial fishermen, charter boats and freight vessels.

As for Eaglecrest, an expansion of the ski area's food service area is sorely needed, said Frankie Pillifant, chairwoman of the Assembly's Public Works and Facilities Committee.

The lodge upgrades also could benefit the Arctic Winter Games, according to Assembly member Jim Powell, who is heading a committee that is putting together a bid package for Juneau to host the 2006 games.

"It's a reasonable approach to request those facilities that would be built anyway, whether we had the Arctic Winter Games or not," he said. "Let's ask for the money and get it into the hopper."

If an ordinance for the bond proposition is introduced at the Assembly's Aug. 5 meeting, the city will work with its bond counsel in Seattle to set the terms and develop technical wording for the ballot, city Finance Director Craig Duncan said.

As an example, $1 million in bonding would cost property taxpayers an estimated $8 per $200,000 in assessed property a year for 15 years, Duncan said.

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