Assembly members to rank state funding requests

Another item has been added to a list of possible state funding requests the Juneau Assembly plans to submit to the legislature this year. Meanwhile, another item is a candidate to come off the list.

City Manager Rod Swope distributed his draft suggestions to the assembly on Monday. It was only later – he told the Finance Committee last night (Wednesday) – that Police Chief Greg Browning suggested adding the Police Crisis Intervention Specialist to the list.

Federal funding for the two-year-old position in the amount of 111-thousand dollars a year is due to expire on June 30th. Swope said he thought it was worth having the assembly consider it as part of its package of state funding requests.

“It’s been really valuable,” Swope says. “The person works with victims of domestic violence directly after an incident of violence and until that person can get back to normal and get in a safe situation. We’ve never had one in the past. There are no funds. The federal program has been eliminated. And I thought, since it is I think a good community service, fairly important particularly to victims, that I would ask you if I could go ahead and add that onto the list.”

The assembly agreed to add the position to the list.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl – an aide to state Senator Dennis Egan – expressed concern about a possible request of 1.3-million dollars for Centennial Hall roof replacement. A 2009 assessment concluded the roof needed to be replaced immediately, and while the legislature has funded it three times in recent years, Governors Palin and Parnell have vetoed it each time. Kiehl says it’s time for the city to move forward on its own.

“Despite the fact that we absolutely need to do it, I have concerns about going around for a fourth try,” said Kiehl. “I think it may be time for us to look within the city’s own capital improvement project, and sales tax, or whatever other fund sources we need to look at. Just the history of this convinces me, that despite the best efforts of all concerned, this one’s going to have to be funded elsewhere.”

The list of funding requests needs to be finalized by the end of the month. Each assembly member will rank the projects on the draft list and submit their recommendations to the city clerk who will prioritize them based on those rankings. Further discussion will be held before the assembly submits the list to the legislative delegation.