City celebrating importance of local infrastructure

Juneau School District budget seeking approval

In this August 2015 photo, visitors line up to view Juneau’s downtown harbor. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Infrastructure, when everything works according to plan, probably does not get a second-thought from everyone. That is why this week it will be getting the recognition it deserves.

 

The City and Borough of Juneau will be joining in on a nationwide effort that highlights communities’ reliance on critical infrastructure and how it impacts the economy, quality of life and safety by celebrating Infrastructure Week from today to Friday, May 18.

The week will will include a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon Tuesday-Friday at various CBJ Docks and Harbors facilities in and around Juneau.

Monday will start the week with an informational session at 11 a.m. at City Hall Chambers. Port Director Carl Uchytil, Harbormaster Dave Borg, Deputy Port Engineer Erich Schaal and Port Engineer Gary Gillette will speak about harbor infrastructure requirements, maintaining existing infrastructures and plans for the future.

Ribbon cuttings the rest of the week will be held at:

• Tuesday, May 15 at Statter Harbor Breakwater for the breakwater safety improvements and Auke Bay Marine Station efforts.

• Wednesday, May 16 at the Seawalk near the Downtown Library/Archipelago Lot for Seawalk safety improvements and cathodic protection project.

• Thursday, May 17 at Harris Harbor for bathrooms and ground breaking for Taku Harbor repairs.

• Friday, May 18 at Aurora Harbor for Aurora Harbor Phase II and Harbor Customer Appreciation Day featuring a cookout for the public and harbor patrons.

City set to approve Juneau School District budget

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly will look into the Fiscal Year 2019 budget and will consider adopting the Juneau School District Fiscal Year 2019 budget at the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

The district budget, which has nearly $3.5 million worth of cuts, was adopted by the Board of Education during its March 28 meeting. Lack of funding from the state, which is facing a multibillion dollar deficit, was the main reason for such a steep decline in the overall budget.

The Finance Committee officially sent the district budget to the Assembly during its meet on May 9. The biggest issue the city had to work with when considering the budget was an increase in the amount the district asked from the city. The district asked for more than $27 million from the city, which is about $1.3 million more than last year.

The budget will most likely be adopted because the Finance Committee is made up of the Assembly members.

While approving the budget does take a weight off of the district’s board, there is still the issue of cutting the automotive program from the school. A $40,000 cut — which is the amount the district spends to rent space at the University of Alaska Southeast Technical Education Center, across from Juneau-Douglas High School — is part of the FY19 district budget. During a public testimony period at a special Assembly meeting on April 25 , Josh Smith, a 2009 JDHS graduate, said he was unsure what he would be doing with his life without the program. Smith is a diesel mechanic in Juneau and praised automotive teacher Steve Squires and the program for guiding him toward his career path.

At the district’s Board of Education meeting on May 8, Superintendent Mark Miller said he has spoken with UAS Chancellor Dr. Richard A. Caulfield about possible solutions to save the automotive program. Miller said the district could look into possibly renting just half the space at half the cost. However, Miller said he has also talked to Squires about this and told the board. Squires did not think he could run the program effectively with half the space. Currently Auto Mechanics I, II and part of Intro to Auto classes are taught at UAS.

City looks into 2nd Street/North Franklin Street property extension

The Assembly will also address issuing a 12-month extension to Eagle Rock Ventures as the Seattle-based real estate investment and development firm attempts to try to develop property at 2nd Street and North Franklin Street. ERV has reported to the city that they have spent more than $80,000 to find an economical, successful workforce development plan. The current agreement between CBJ and ERV ends May 18. If the motion passes to extend the agreement, the city plans to invite ERV to a future Finance Committee meeting for an update on the property. The property currently stands as parking.


• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at gphilson@juneauempire.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.


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