Juneau voters pass harbor, utility bond

Voter turnout 35.3 percent

Posted: Sunday, October 06, 2002

A $15 million bond proposition that would fund harbor and utility upgrades in Juneau passed after a count of absentee and questioned ballots Friday.

The bond proposition was failing by 31 votes after Tuesday's ballots were counted. But the measure passed by 118 votes after election officials counted 1,048 absentee and questioned ballots Friday evening. The updated count shows 4,191 people voting yes, and 4,073 people voting no.

The outcome of Juneau Assembly and Juneau School Board races didn't change Friday, although voter turnout increased to 35.3 percent after the count. The election results will be certified Tuesday.

For more Juneau Empire coverage of the October 1 municipal elections, please visit the Juneau Empire Elections Guide.

The $15 million general obligation bond package includes funding for a commercial vessel loading facility in Auke Bay, harbor improvements downtown and in Douglas, a park in West Juneau, an expansion of the day lodge at Eaglecrest Ski Area, a water line extension to North Tee Harbor, and water and sewer upgrades in Douglas.

The majority of voters in eight of Juneau's 16 precincts voted for the measure. More people in downtown Juneau and Douglas voted for the bonds, while more people in the Mendenhall Valley and Lemon Creek voted no, according to the unofficial results.

Mayor Sally Smith said she was surprised the vote was as close at it was. A close vote makes the package more controversial, but the projects are needed, she said.

"I'm gratified we'll be able to go forward with improvements in the community that everyone will benefit from," she said.

While a November vote on a legislative-session move may have made people nervous about the bond package, Smith said a lack of information likely was a bigger factor. The Juneau Assembly decided in August to put the measure on the ballot.

"I think a lot of it was that it came up very late in the process and people didn't have enough information to feel comfortable on a lot of those projects," she said.

Election results

City election results after absentee and questioned ballots were counted Friday.

•$15 million bond package

Yes 4,191

No 4,073

•Assembly areawide

Marc Wheeler 4,592

Chuck Collins 3,504

•Assembly District 1

Merrill Sanford 4,279

Frankie Pillifant 3,778

•Assembly District 2

Stan Ridgeway 4,328

Don Etheridge 3,527

•School Board

Bob Van Slyke 3,203

Carl Brodersen 2,399

Julie Morris 2,247

Steve Kikendall 1,752

Jeremy Kerr 1,243

Bonn Trinidad 1,141

Louise Cornwall 864

Will Muldoon 562

(Source: Juneau city clerk's office.)

Two-thirds of the bond funding will benefit local harbors, with $3.25 million going to a commercial vessel loading facility in the Auke Bay area. As currently planned, the project would providing loading space for freight and commercial fishing boats.

Mitch Falk, who runs Gumption Freight, has been involved in planning meetings for the facility. The project will help reduce congestion at Statter Harbor in Auke Bay and benefit the local economy, he said.

"It's wonderful, it's a great thing," he said. "It's a no-lose situation, the only drawback being that property owners will end up footing the bill. But the bond issue was diversified enough to benefit everybody."

The cost of the bonds for taxpayers will be $47 for each $100,000 in assessed property value per year for 20 years, according to the city.

With 8,479 of 24,037 registered voters casting ballots, turnout was higher this year than last year, when 28.2 percent of registered voters cast a ballot.

Updated precinct-by-precinct totals are available on the city's Web site at www.juneau.org/clerk/elections/.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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