Republican Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook” released Tuesday purports to document cases of wasteful federal spending.
No. 59 in the 100-item list is a $450,000 federal grant awarded to Juneau’s Alaskan Brewing Company. The Wastebook says the grant gives the already successful company “a big profit boost courtesy of the federal government.”
The money covered a quarter of the cost of the brewing company’s first-of-its-kind boiler that generates heat from the spent grains used to make beer.
Andy Kline is the spokesman for Alaskan Brewing.
“So that was a significant risk to be the first, you know, brewery in the world to try this system, and the USDA’s grant helped us mitigate a portion of that risk.”
They’re taking the listing in stride.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to talk about a project that we’re incredibly proud of,” Kline said with a chuckle. “You know, I think this guy has his opinion, but, in fact, it’s barely negative.”
Kline says the environment and federal government also benefit.
“Part of the point of what the senator said is that we’re a successful brand and we’re enjoyed in 15 states. We’re happy with that success, and that success lets us pay about $2 million annually in federal excise taxes. So on a dollar figure alone, the federal government’s getting a pretty good return on that investment.”
Kline says no one from the senator’s office has contacted the company about the listing.
(Full disclosure: Alaskan Brewing sponsors many public radio events in Juneau and Kline often volunteers his time.)
- The Juneau Assembly declined to pass a broaden sales tax exemption for seniors. Opposition from businesses prodded elected officials to refer the initiative back to committee.
- Fines for pet owners whose for critters scooped up by animal control officers have gone up. The fees hadn't been adjusted for nearly 17 years.
- Local education officials are applying for state money to replace and repair leaky roofs at several Juneau schools. About $5 million is coming in over the next five years earmarked for school maintenance from sales tax money that voters approved in the Oct. 3 election.
- "They’re calling it GTA, grand theft Anchorage, right now," said Rep. Lora Reinbold, who says she wants to repeal Senate Bill 91. "It’s outrageous, what’s going on in the city that I love.”