Assembly hears pitches for 1 percent sales tax projects

Centennial Hall needs more than $3.7-million in repairs and maintenance, including a new roof. Funding could come from an extension of Juneau's temporary one-percent sales tax. (Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO)

City departments and private groups are making their final push to the Juneau Assembly for projects to be included in a possible extension of the city’s temporary one-percent sales tax.

The so-called “project tax” – typically used to fund city construction and maintenance – is due to expire in September 2013. Voters will be asked to approve a continuation at this fall’s municipal election.

The city Finance Department estimates the tax will bring in $8-million to $9-million a year in revenue, for a total of nearly $45-million over five years. The Assembly Finance Committee heard requests for more than $32-million in projects last night (Wednesday) and will hear more next week.

Many of the presentations followed a similar script. For example, at one point Mayor Bruce Botelho asked Docks and Harbors Board Chair Kevin Jardell, “What do you get if you only get half that amount?”

“We’ll take it,” replied Jardell, sparking laughter in the audience.

Docks and Harbors is seeking $7-million for a rebuild of Aurora Harbor and another $2.3 million for Auke Bay boat haul out improvements.

The Parks and Recreation Department has a list of 20 parks and trails projects that it would like to see funded, totaling about $4.7-million.

Parks and Rec also manages several buildings that need maintenance and repairs, including Centennial Hall. Juneau’s convention center needs about $3.7-million for a new roof, plumbing improvements and electrical upgrades. A Centennial Hall Users Group has formed to advocate for the fixes. They were represented by Peter Metcalfe of the Juneau Public Market at last night’s meeting.

“As producers of events, we’re basically masters of deception,” said Metcalfe. “You can walk into that building and say, ‘Well, this looks pretty good,’ because there’s been a lot of cosmetic upgrades. But those of who produce events know what sort of drama goes on behind the scenes.”

Other proposed projects discussed last night included: $6.2-million dollars for renovation of Capital Transit’s bus barn and $6.6-million for a new “Learning Center” and lodge renovations at Eaglecrest Ski Area.

Karen Crane

Assembly Finance Committee Chair Karen Crane. (Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO)

Next week the Finance Committee will hear presentations from the Juneau Airport, Bartlett Regional Hospital, Juneau Public Libraries, Sealaska Heritage Institute, and Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

Finance Committee Chair Karen Crane plans to hold another meeting after next week to decide which projects to include on the municipal election ballot. That meeting will likely be held at the end of this month or in early July, so the city manager’s office has time to prepare and ordinance to go to the full Assembly.

The temporary one-percent tax is part of the CBJ’s five-percent sales tax, which also includes a one-percent permanent tax and a three-percent temporary tax.