This Day in Juneau History: March 10-11, 1987

On March 10, 1987, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly started reviewing the exemptions list for the municipal sales tax to see where changes could be made. In all, there were about 30 existing municipal tax exemptions, half of which were mandated by state or federal law. The other half, however, were for special interest groups. This half costed the city an estimated $10 million each year, and because funding for the city was decreasing, the Assembly wanted to see who could begin paying taxes. The committee already decided exemptions on sales to non-residents and sale of buildings and construction materials will remain intact.

University of Alaska President Donald O’Dowd named the top three picks for the open University of Alaska-Juneau Chancellorship position. The finalists were Beverly Beeton of Juneau, John Devens of Valdez and Marshall Lind of Juneau.

Up on Capitol Hill, New York Rep. Bob Mrazek re-introduced legislation that would stop automatic federal assistance to companies harvesting timber in the Tongass National Forest. Rep. Mrazek claimed that too much money was being spent on the help.

The U.S. Forest Service, meanwhile, announced that a square-mile of the Juneau ice field had been zoned, meaning some helicopters will be allowed to land and give tours of the area. The decision was three years in the making.

Shannon Lucid, an astronaut well-known for spending a week as a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery, stopped by an eighth-grade earth science class at Marie Drake Middle School to talk about her work. Many questions asked had to do with possible colonization of Mars and whether there could be planets farther away than Pluto in the solar system.

On March 11, 1987, the Associated Press published an article investigating the loss of billions from the Alaskan economy. The University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research found that Alaska was, when adjusted for inflation, worse off than it was a year before the big oil boom. The research talked about in the article was done by Linda Leask, Karen Foster and Gorsuch* in “Where Have All The Billions Gone.” The piece was the first comprehensive look at how Alaska spent its money since the price of oil tripled in 1980.

The Alaska Legislature found themselves also talking about the economy. After considerable debate, the Senate voted 12-8 to tap money from the Alaska Permanent Fund savings. The amount, expected to be between $772 million and $882 million, was to be used to fulfill the 1987 deficit. Meanwhile, after many other votes, the House finally approved the immediate use by Gov. Steve Cowper of the state’s budget reserve fund. The House had already given the Cowper Administration access to the fund, but before they had not set a soon enough date for their decision to go into effect.

Dr. John Middaugh, the state’s epidemiologist, was hoping that lawmakers would help increase research and testing of Accelerated Immune Deficiency Syndrome. At a speech made on Tuesday to the Juneau Democrats, Middaugh argued that the state’s screening program should be improved because it is an efficient way of detecting AIDS antibodies.

After reviewing the proposed cuts and their draft budget for the next year, the City and Borough of Juneau Board of Education recognized the struggle Juneau schools would have to go through. Board member Pat Murphy noted they had to cut between 30 and 40 positions, multiple programs and personnel. However, according to the board, this was nothing compared to the cuts they would be forced to make for the upcoming year.

*The full name of the last author of this article was smeared. Gorsuch is the author’s last name.

“This Day in Juneau History” is compiled by Empire freelancer Tasha Elizarde, who sums up the day’s events — 30 years ago — by perusing Empire archives.

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