CBJ Assembly approves budget plan

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The operating mill rate was set at 9.46 mills and the debt service at 1.2 mills as the Assembly approved a near $380 million dollar operating budget.

    The operating budget includes just over $278 million in expenditures and just over $101 million in budget transfers.

    Assembly member Mary Becker said she wanted to set the mill rate at 10.56 mills.  She mentioned the cost of living and the Assembly having a chance to help residents.  She said the CBJ has a healthy bank account.   She also mentioned an increase in sales tax revenues. 

    Assembly member Loren Jones said he had concerns about the state budget and the school bond debt reimbursement question of $7.1 million.  "We have schools that are aging and we have $5 million for school maintenance over five years which is probably not enough."

    Assembly member Rob Edwardson said he understands the concern over the state budget and supported the lower mill rate,  "I don't believe in preemptive taxing.  We have to make a lot of tough decisions.  I'd rather respond to what I know rather than just guess."

    Assembly member Alicia Hughes Skandijs supported 10.66 mills.  She said costs will likely be shifted to Juneau from the state level.  She also predicted sales taxes could go down due to the uncertainty of the state fiscal situation.

    Assembly member Carole Triem said the state is shifting the burden of state responsibilities to the local level.   She predicted this will continue under the Dunleavy administration.

    The motion to lower the tax rate to 10.56 mills failed in a (4-4) vote.    Vice Mayor Maria Gladziszewski was absent.  Assembly members Triem, Hughes-Skandijs, Jones and Mayor Beth Weldon voted against lowering the mill rate.

    The total mill rate was 10.66 mills.

    The capital improvement budget totals $37.7 million.  Included in the priority list are $2.5 million for the Mendenhall Treatment Plant, $700,000 for deferred building maintenance, $1.7 million for Augustus Brown pool maintenance, $1 million for Juneau schools major maintenance, $4.5 million for Statter Harbor improvements, $3.5 million for the crisis stabilization unit at Bartlett Hospital, $3.2 million for various wastewater improvements and $450,000 for Pederson Hill.

    Also included are $24.9 million in airport improvements, $5 million for state parking and $5 million for a new city hall. 

    A group of Horizon Drive residents opposed to the CBJ Parks and Recreation Master plan suggestion to consider declassification of the Bayview Property on Fish Creek from parkland for possible sale.  Residents said it is a valuable wildlife and conservation area and should be protected.  Others said it has wetlands and has environmental benefits.

    The planning process for the master plan took close to two years and included 35 public meetings.

    The new group Juneau neighborhoods affected by tourism appealed to the Assembly to take action on determining if the community has reached its capacity of tourists.  A group of Basin Road residents continued to complain about additional traffic on the road.  The most common concern is congestion downtown near the cruise ship docks.

    In other actions:

    Ordinances for introduction included one to appropriate $500,000 for the Bartlett Hospital Crisis Stabilization project.  The money will be used for planning and design of the project.

    Another ordinance for introduction will allow the sale of $5.95 million in bonds for the airport north terminal project.  Another allows the issuance of $18 million in bonds for this project.

    Another ordinance introduced will rezone three properties in Thunder Mountain Mobile Home Park to allow a higher density development.

    These ordinances will be the subject of public hearings at the next regular Assembly meeting.

    The Assembly delayed until June 20 an ordinance that would transfer $802,095 to help fund the proposed site of the Valley Transit Center.

    The Assembly approved a professional services contract with PND Engineers to do a small cruise ship infrastructure master plan to better accommodate vessels under 275 feet in length.

    The Assembly accepted the recommendation of Manager Rorie Watt to exempt the Airport North Terminal Project from the LEED requirement related to green buildings.

    Finance Director Bob Bartholomew said the airport north terminal expansion had a $1.1 million budget shortfall.  The Airport Board has pledged $800,000 from fund balance to help fill the gap.  The total cost is over $24 million.  The Assembly considered a budget amendment of $300,000 in sales tax revenue to solve the shortfall.  The motion failed (5-3).  The funding proposal for the terminal will be discussed at the Finance Committee meeting on June 12.

     

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