Juneau Chamber officials express concern over funding of Centennial Hall upgrades

    (L to R) Chamber Past President Richard Burns, President-elect Charlie Williams and Executive Director Craig Dahl

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau Chamber of Commerce is concerned that funding proposed for renovations at Centennial Hall could be in harm's way. The funding is proposed in two of the ballot propositions that will appear on the October 1 local election ballot.

    President-elect Charlie Williams, past President Richard Burns, and Executive Director Craig Dahl outlined their concern on Action Line.

    The Assembly okayed forwarding the propositions for Centennial Hall and a new arts and culture center to voters during a meeting earlier this month.
    Dahl said the Assembly threw a twist in right at the end of the meeting.   "Up until that time, there were two ballot initiatives for a yes-no vote to the public.  One was a two percent increase in the bed tax. The second called for approval of a $7 Million general obligation bond for the improvements at Centennial Hall.   Most of that debt payment would come from the two percent increase in the bed tax.  The $4.5 Million grant that would be then  directed to the new JACC would come from sales tax, however, originally that ordinance was written such that if the two percent bed tax or bond issue failed for Centennial Hall, the grant for the JACC would not be available"

    Williams explained that was a reallocation of the $4.5 Million that was originally for Centennial Hall.   So Dahl says voters could, in theory, reject the two percent bed tax and the $7 Million bond and still approve the advisory vote and that $4.5 Million would be taken away from Centennial Hall and Centennial Hall would essentially receive no funding.  Dahl said its been the chamber's position that its extremely important for Centennial Hall to be upgraded.  "uncoupling the propositions leaves funding for Centennial Hall in a vulnerable position," Williams said.

    Burns said the fact remains that voters have already approved funding for Centennial Hall upgrades.  "And so this is just coming back to the table one more time and that's exactly what could happen," he said.  "You could get a new JACC, you get get no Centennial Hall upgrades at all."

     

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