Front row seats to the local democratic process are always free, and there is often a double feature on Monday nights.
The Assembly recently spent two late nights during Finance Committee working to decide which projects to propose to the voters for this fall’s municipal ballot. About every five years, the City typically proposes (and the voters usually approve) to extend one percent of the sales tax for five years. One percent of sales tax for a year generates about $8.6 million per year, so five years gives the community opportunity to support about $43 million worth of projects.
Per normal, there are far more requests than funds available, and CBJ has a heavy dose of infrastructure needs. Much of Juneau’s infrastructure was built 30 to 50 years ago and, just like a house of that age, it all needs some work. The City’s list of potential projects includes everything from the airport to wastewater with pools, boilers, housing projects, a performing arts center, childcare, parking and recycling in between. This is a tough choice for the Assembly as CBJ has many worthy needs. The Finance Committee will probably wrap up its work on this on July 13 and pass on a recommendation. Once that happens, the Assembly still needs to pass an ordinance before anything gets on the ballot.
Juneau residents should keep in mind that local spending helps local businesses and the local government. Sales tax allows CBJ to provide more capital spending and services. It makes sense to look local first as Amazon Prime isn’t giving the City a rebate to fix leaky roofs.
The City also responded to a request from the Governor to suggest projects for a possible federal infrastructure program. The details of the program are currently unknown. The Assembly put forward big community needs including CBJ’s biosolids project (which addresses how CBJ gets rid of the sewage sludge at the end of the wastewater process), improvements to Rainforest Recovery to assist in addiction treatment, a downtown harbor master plan, funding for the State required match for the Juneau Access project, and more funds to improve and extend West Douglas Road, a project that is currently underway. This funding list is a nice snapshot of the wide variety of services that CBJ provides.
At this time last year, the City had a lot of complaints about fireworks; this year, not so much. The Juneau Police Department has enforced the noise ordinance and citizens have generally behaved better. How Juneau deals with fireworks should be simple – use good common sense, be courteous of your neighbors and understand that different people have different thresholds. The good neighbor policy is the best municipal solution to firework complaints.
(This originally appeared in the July 3, 2017 Juneau Empire in a segment called, “City Corner”)