Despite Public Funding Options being Denied at Assembly, New JACC "Matter of How not If"

    Juneau, AK (KINY) - Assembly options to help fund a new Juneau Arts and Culture Center were unsuccessful, but those in favor of the idea do not seem to be dissuaded in their pursuits.

    Many attempts were made to secure funding through various options, like bond sales in varying amounts or through raising the hotel bed tax, all of which failed when it came to an Assembly vote. Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis early in the process of the Committee of the Whole meeting and then subsequently the special Assembly meeting presented an amendment to the ordinance; that amendment failed. The ordinance that proposed the issuance of general obligation bonds in the principal amount not to exceed $12 million (Ordinance 2018-40) that would also add a question to the ballot on October 2nd, failed on a 4 to 3 vote. A similar ordinance 2018-43b that was in the amount of $7 million failed outright. The last option discussed at the meeting, the ordinance that would increase the hotel-motel room tax by two percent, which would then total nine percent, also failed on a 3 to 4 vote. 

    It was once more pointed out that there were two missing from the Assembly (Weldon and Gregory) due to election pursuits as both have filed to run for Mayor. 

    Ben Brown with the JAHC told us after the decisions were made that they will consider pursuing ways to get the project funded. 

    “The project has been going on for decades and it has a pretty broad base of support. The public funding questions that was unsuccessful in going to the voters tonight, are much more recent. The Plan A idea is less than two months old and Plan B is less than a month old. I think it takes time for people to familiarize themselves with investing public money in projects.”

    “I think the passage of time is going to be an ally for the effort to get through to our elected leaders and the wider community that there is a strong reason to invest public funds in the new JACC.”

    “I also think the vast majority of testimony was in favor of not only the new JACC, but the specific solution Plan A. That what was most popular with people who chose to show up.”

    Brown says that there was also no intent on their part to use an increase in the hotel-motel tax. 

    “We at no point had the idea to raise the bed tax by 1%, let alone 2%.”

    Brown did reveal the amount of money raised for the project, “We are just shy of $5 million in pledged and raised money."

    Executive Director at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, Nancy DeCherney, talked to us during the meeting break about the importance of art and culture in Juneau. She says that art truly helps people in a lot of ways and that art in all forms gives people meaning in their lives. 

    “Juneau is setting trends for arts education and it’s great to see kids getting involved. It gives them purpose and meaning.”

    “Sometimes people think of art as just froo-froo stuff, but it is really much more than that. I think Juneau is a special place because of our arts.” 

    Brown told us after the meeting that a new JACC building was not a question of if, but how. 

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