Timber plan brings cash to Juneau

Bill creates new formula for giving money to towns hurt by timber downturn

Posted: Wednesday, November 01, 2000

The amount of money Juneau's city government gets from a federal timber program will more than quadruple under a bill signed by President Clinton.

A revised formula is in place to provide federal school and road construction aid for towns hurt by a drop in timber harvests on federal lands. Legislation cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, guarantees annual payments for communities receiving federal timber receipts.

The U.S. Forest Service's latest estimate shows Juneau's funding would jump from about $200,000 a year to close to $900,000, said Murkowski spokesman Chuck Kleeschulte. He said an earlier version of the bill put the amount at $1.26 million.

Alaska should gain a total of about $10 million for fiscal 2001, Murkowski said. That compares to the little more than $2 million Alaska communities received this year.

Under the program, towns can choose to receive an annual payment that equals the average payment of their highest three years over the past 15 years, or they can receive federal aid based on the actual level of timber receipts in their areas for that year.

Murkowski said the downturn in timber harvests over the past eight years has meant a sharp drop in money for schools and roads in towns near federal lands.

"The precipitous drop in financial support for education and infrastructure has really hurt many Alaska towns and boroughs," Murkowski said. "This bill reverses those reductions and sets up a steady and reliable flow of federal aid to offset the loss to the local tax base because of federal land ownership."

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