Mayor takes anti-move message on the road

Posted: Sunday, August 11, 2002

KETCHIKAN - Juneau Mayor Sally Smith took her anti-capital move message on the road in Southeast this week, warning that the entire region will be hurt if the Legislature moves north.

Ballot Measure 2, which will appear on the general election ballot in November, would require the Legislature to meet in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, or if space is not available, in Anchorage. It also would repeal the law that requires voters to approve the cost of the move in a subsequent election.

Speaking Thursday in Ketchikan, Smith said the costs of the initiative are unknown. It does not identify the cost of the move or from where the Legislature would obtain the funds for it.

The biggest losses and costs to Southeast would be in transportation, Smith said.

Juneau receives an estimated $100 million annually as a result of Alaska Airlines traffic in and out of the city, Smith said. If the Legislature moves, she said, the community would experience a 47 percent decline in passenger and freight business, a loss of about $50 million.

Smith said Juneau represents 25 percent of the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry departures. Loss of the Legislature would mean fewer departures, she said, which would harm all of Southeast's ferry service.

Loss of the Legislature would have repercussions in other areas as well, she said. She estimated that Juneau would lose 25 percent of its population and 30 percent of its payroll, and the population drop would mean fewer Southeast legislators.

Smith also said the measure gives the Legislature a blank check to pay for moving and allows for two moves and the expenses associated with them. Meanwhile, state-owned buildings in Juneau would be abandoned, but the cost of maintaining them would continue to be an expense in the state budget, she said.

The Legislature already has asked communities to absorb costs because of deficit spending by state government, Smith said. The cost of moving the Legislature would further reduce what the state could afford to pay to aid communities, she said.

The move also could reduce accessibility to the Capitol by all Alaskans, Smith said.

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