Senate boosts Southeast project funding

Yakutat's power plant could be supplemented with a biomass heating system for part of the northern Southeast community. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Yakutat’s power plant could be supplemented with a biomass heating plant for part of the northern Southeast community. Funding is in the Senate Finance Committee’s capital budget. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Southeast Alaska could get another $27 million from this year’s capital budget.

The Senate Finance Committee added the money to Governor Sean Parnell’s spending plan, which was released in December.

Larger new projects include improvements to Juneau’s water system, Petersburg’s municipal building and Sitka’s visitor facilities.

The budget would also fund a new fuel tank farm in Kake, construction equipment for Craig, and biomass heating projects in Yakutat, Haines and Ketchikan.

The total value of Southeast projects in the budget is about $163 million. That’s about 9 percent of the statewide capital budget.

Further changes could be made as the Senate Finance Committee fine-tunes the spending plan. More additions, and some cuts, could happen in the House before it’s passed into law. The governor can also veto specific projects not to his liking.

The Senate panel increased funding for the State Library, Archives and Museum building, which is under construction in Juneau. The governor proposed $15 million and the committee increased it to $37.5 million.

Another big project, a road north out of the capital city, continues to be funded at $35 million. That’s a fraction of the total amount needed for construction.

The committee also considered a companion bill that doubled an earlier $500,000 appropriation to the Inter-Island Ferry Authority, which sails between Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan. That proposal came from the governor.

Smaller community projects added by the Senate Finance Committee include:

  • Upgrading the Gustavus Volunteer Fire Department’s 911 Radio System, at about $65,000.
  • Ketchikan Shipyard improvements, at about $1.2 million.
  • Angoon sewer system upgrades, at about $700,000.
  • Repairing and upgrading Klawock’s garbage truck, at $154,000.
  • An ice machine for Pelican, at $300,000.