Assembly decides several funding issues

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Assembly decided to spend $27.88 million to fund Juneau Schools for the fiscal year 2020.

    The local funds include $26.5 million for general operations and $1.38 million for programs and activities outside the state funding cap.  These programs include $1.18 million for student activities, $50,000 for pupil transportation, $50,000 for food service and $95,000 for community schools.

    The Assembly approved a bid with Oshkosh Airport Products, LLC for $1.395 million to purchase three heavy duty airport runway snow removal plow trucks.  The estimated cost was $1.95 million.

    The Assembly also approved a bid with Alaska Commercial Contractors, Inc. for $2.34 million for the Rainforest Recovery Center Detox Addition.  The estimated price was $2.52 million.

    The Assembly approved an ordinance to appropriate $1.15 million to fund various capital improvement projects at Juneau International Airport.  The projects include rehabilitation of a runway that costs $713,745, terminal reconstruction $214,634, taxiway A, E, D-1 improvements $200,000 and construction of the sand, chemical, and fuel facility $21,988.  The revenue comes from passenger facility charges.

    The Assembly approved the transfer of $610,759 of passenger facility charges to replace sales tax revenues budgeted to the airport terminal project.  The appropriation in 2015 served as the local match for a Federal Aviation Administration grant.

    The Assembly also approved an ordinance to accept $190,463 from the Alaska Department of Public Safety to purchase a 3D scanner and thermal imager for the Juneau Police Department. The police department said the 3D scanner is a tool used to accurately map complex crime scenes and locations and reduces the time spent on investigations.  It also increases the accuracy of forensic data collected and improves the efficiency and accuracy of an investigation.  The thermal imager is used at night to locate suspects or people who are unable to verbally respond.

    In other actions, the Assembly approved an ordinance to spend $35,000 to fund the visitor information kiosk replacement project at the waterfront.  The money will come from Docks & Harbor fund balance.

    They Assembly also approved $175,000 in supplemental funding for the waste management program.  An 84% increase in vehicles surrendered to the CBJ junk vehicle disposal program cost an additional $100,000.  The other $75,000 will pay for reductions in proceeds from the recycling program due to a decrease in prices offered for recyclable materials around the world.

    The Assembly also introduced new ordinances that will be set for public hearings at the next Assembly meeting.  One ordinance would appropriate $1.54 million to supplement various department operating budgets.  Of the total request, $950,000 will go to Capital City Fire Rescue.  $250,000 will go to pay negotiated union wages.  Ambulance billings shortfalls total $700,000.  Staff said the shortfall is due to a continued decline in billable call volumes, over aggressive revenue projections and higher than anticipated bad-debt and contractual write-offs.  The money will come from general government funds.

    The airport exceeded its authorized spending authority for fiscal year 2019 by $108,400.  Docks & Harbors requested an additional $35,000.  The Lands Department requested an additional $201,900 due to a decrease in projected revenues from land sales.  One land sale, the South Lena Subdivision lot 1 Block B was expected this fiscal year but has been delayed until fiscal year 2020.  The Risk Department exceeded its spending authority by $240,000 due to higher than budgeted claims experience for health insurance.  The revenues for these requests will come from fund balance in the respective department.

    Assistant City Manager Mila Cosgrove reported over the last three years over 2,100 vehicles have been seized and impounded by Juneau Police.  The impound lot is designed to handle 100 vehicles and normally have 200 vehicles.  1,300 have been released back to their owners while some are sold at auction or otherwise disposed of.  Since March police have held three online auctions and were able to move some vehicles.

    "They are hoping that process will take some pressure off the lot," she noted.

    CBJ Attorney Robert Palmer said they recently filed a lawsuit against a landowner that has an estimated 200 vehicles on their property.  Palmer said the landowner refused to comply with CBJ laws.

    CBJ manager Rorie Watt said vehicles that have reached the end of life can be disposed of for free through a CBJ program.   He added it appears there are more older cars in Juneau than there was five years ago.  "We do have a lot of cars in the community and were trying to figure out how to get rid of the cars that need to be disposed of."

    Watt suggested the CBJ could consider a financial incentive for people to drop off the junk cars.  He said the Assembly could schedule such a discussion at a Committee of the Whole meeting.  He noted the CBJ is using a lot of resources to collect and dispose of these vehicles.

    Cosgrove said the number of abandoned vehicles collected by police has risen over the last three years.  "A lot of them don't have auction value and a lot of them make their way right to disposal."

    Mayor Beth Weldon issued a proclamation for Building Safety Month in May.  The Home Build class at Juneau-Douglas High School accepted the proclamation.  The group worked on a home build project this year and also assisted Habitat for Humanity in March with the construction of three new homes.

    The Mayor also issued a proclamation for Infrastructure week from today through May 20.  The goal of the event is to encourage more attention to infrastructure projects across the country.  Port Director Carl Uchytil said the National Society of Engineers, Chamber of Commerce and other national organizations sponsor the event.  "In Alaska infrastructure is unique.  We are an aviation and a maritime state.  Alaska Airlines flies into 20 communities in Alaska, only three of which are on the road system.  We have unique challenges to maintain and improve infrastructure that advances our community needs."

    Uchytil said Alaska has fewer paved roads than Rhode Island.  Small ribbon cuttings will take place through the week in Juneau for maintenance projects and other improvements made in the past several months.

    The Mayor asked the community to keep Ketchikan in their thoughts and prayers due to a fatal float plane crash that occurred Monday afternoon.

    Kim Metcalfe told the Assembly that cruise ship increases have created a traffic problem on Basin Road.  She requested the CBJ close the road year round.  "It's a safety concern as well as a quality of life concern.  I think of it as our backyard.  The neighborhood can't tolerate that kind of traffic.  It is just too much.  We have a rural feel to that neighborhood and traffic is getting impossible again."

     

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