Juneau officials look for best way to manage assets

Juneau City Manager Kim Kiefer says she’ll develop a comprehensive list of deferred maintenance needs at city facilities.

Individual departments maintain their own lists, and projects get prioritized every year as part of the city’s capital improvement plan. But Kiefer says there’s no “master list.” So, she’ll work with Engineering Director Rorie Watt to develop one.

“Because it really feeds into the long-term CIP plan. What’s out there, and when you start looking at the miles of roads, the water the sewer, all those pieces, it adds up,” Kiefer says in response to Assembly and public comments about the need to better manage city assets.

The Juneau Assembly this week approved putting two capital project funding measures on this fall’s municipal election ballot — a five year extension of the city’s temporary 1-percent sales tax and a $25 million dollar bond proposition. Together, the measures include more than $8 million for city-wide deferred maintenance. Centennial Hall would get $3.2 million for long needed upgrades, including a new roof.

Assemblyman Carlton Smith supports both funding measures, but says the city needs a better maintenance plan.

“These projects have to be funded one way or another,” says Smith. “But what I’d like to see fairly quickly on the horizon is a plan for asset management that would include all the deferred maintenance issues.”

Asemblyman Randy Wanamaker was the only member to vote against both measures. He says issuing municipal bonds at this time is not the best way to build and maintain the city’s infrastructure.

“This community is facing serious financial uncertainty and adding to public debt is not what we should be doing,” says Wanamaker

He worries the bond issue will cause property taxes to rise. But the plan is to use $10 million dollars in sales tax to pay bond debt, and avoid any property tax increase. If voters reject the bond measure, that $10 million would be used for two of the projects — Centennial Hall and Aurora Harbor upgrades.

Municipal Election Day is October 2nd.

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