New JACC boosters back off hotel bed tax funding request

This design rendering shows how the new Juneau Arts and Culture Center may appear from the Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building.

This design rendering shows how the new Juneau Arts and Culture Center may appear from the Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building. (Courtesy Juneau Arts and Humanities Council)

Arts boosters are no longer seeking an increase in the hotel bed tax to pay for a new and improved Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

The heads of the board overseeing the project wrote the Juneau Assembly on Tuesday requesting the ordinance related to the tax increase be postponed indefinitely.

Project coordinator Katharine Heumann said the decision came after hearing criticism of the proposal from Travel Juneau and members of the community.

“Different people contact you, you have these conversations, and you think you might have support,” she said. “And when you don’t, then you rethink your strategy.”

Travel Juneau expressed concern that the new facility would compete with nearby Centennial Hall for event rentals, and that the higher bed tax rate might discourage event planners from using Juneau as a destination.

After an Assembly committee meeting last week, the ordinance to create a ballot question to increase the bed tax from 7 percent to 9 percent was due for a public hearing and vote at the upcoming Juneau Assembly meeting on Monday. The city predicted the increase would raise $1.6 million over four years.

“We listened carefully to the concerns expressed by Travel Juneau and others in the community, and we want to be part of encouraging travel in Juneau. We believe our new facility will be a great draw to Juneau and we want the community to all be on board with that. So at this time, we’re exploring other avenues of partnering with the city.”

Heumann said the project will still go forward. She said cost estimates will be re-examined in the next few months before drawing up construction documents.

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