This is a picture of the City and Borough of Juneau City Hall in October 2022. The Assembly Finance Committee OK'd $10 million in funding to go toward a City Hall project on Wednesday, more than six months after voters narrowly rejected a city ballot proposal to approve $35 million in bond debt to fund the majority of the construction cost for a new City Hall. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Assembly OKs $10M in funds for future City Hall project

The funding could go toward building a new one or renovating the current building.

An overhaul to City Hall remains a possibility thanks to $10 million in funding currently included in the city’s spending plan for the next fiscal year.

During Juneau’s most-recent municipal election in October 2022 voters narrowly rejected a city ballot proposal to approve $35 million in bond debt to fund the majority of the construction cost for a new City Hall. Now, the city is attempting to find a different solution to address its rapidly aging City Hall.

The $10 million in funding was OK’d for the city’s Capital Improvement Program for its fiscal year 2024 budget last Wednesday at the Assembly’s Finance Committee meeting in a unanimous vote. Final approval of the budget is expected in mid-June.

The $10 million would be in conjunction with $6.3 million that was appropriated by the Assembly for the project back in June of 2022. Though the Assembly Finance Committee OK’d the amount, there is still a chance it could change as the Assembly still needs to pass the budget as a whole.

Assembly member Greg Smith attempted to lower the amount down to $8 million, however, his amendment failed 2-5 with Smith and Maria Gladziszewsk voting in favor of the reduction and Assembly members Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, Wade Bryson, Michelle Bonnet Hale, Christine Woll and Mayor Weldon voted against it. Assembly members Carole Triem and ‘Wáahlaal Gíídaak Barbara Blake were absent.

Before the vote, Woll asked that language for the project be changed from funding “a new City Hall” to just “City Hall” so that if another proposed new City Hall is rejected by voters in the future, the $10 million can still be used toward costs related to the city’s current City Hall, which the city rents and pays around $820,000 for annually.

“I am on board with pursuing a new City Hall and trying to do that — but I don’t want to get ahead of the voters,” she said.

The rejected City Hall on last year’s ballot would have cost the city around $41.3 million and been located on Whittier Street, across the street from the state museum.

Assembly member Wade Bryson was and continues to be the most vocal backer of a new City Hall on the Assembly.

“The main problem we are trying to solve is we have an inadequate and in poor conditions City Hall that doesn’t even house half the functions that a City Hall should,” he said in an interview Monday morning. “The current City Hall will not work for the community. There is no amount of money that we could spend to make it an adequate City Hall — it’s too small and too old.”

Bryson said he’s open to all options besides renovating the existing City Hall, and he’d like to see the previously voted down City Hall reenvisioned to address some of the concerns from voters and put back on the ballot.

“I really believe it will go towards a new project,” Bryson said. “The community understands the problem of City Hall and what we are doing with it right now is not working — but we don’t know what the answer will be we’re still trying to figure that out.”

According to City Manager Rorie Watt, the city currently has three possible options to solve the City Hall dilemma. The first is to rework the previously voted-down City Hall project and send it back to voters for another decision.

The other options are looking into the potential sites selected by a recent review of locations done by a private commercial brokerage firm and shared to the city in early May.

The two sites are at the Nugget Mall in the Mendenhall Valley area or the Department of Fish and Game building near the Douglas Bridge.

Watt said he thinks reenvisioning the Whittier site is still a strong option.

“People voted that one question down but sometimes it takes a few tries and altering the proposal,” he said. “Getting approval from the voters is a lot harder than convincing your spouse to renovate the kitchen — it’s complicated.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at or (651)-528-1807.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau is seen on Friday, Feb. 23. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Legislature plans March 12 vote on Gov. Dunleavy’s executive orders

Order giving governor full control of Alaska Marine Highway Operations board among six scheduled.

Brenda Josephson, a Haines resident, testifies in favor of a bill setting statewide standards for municipal property assessors during a state Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Statewide standards for municipal property assessments sought in bill by Juneau lawmaker

Some residents say legislation doesn’t go far enough, want limits on annual valuation increases.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 26, 2004. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of March 2

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks Thursday, April 27, 2023, at a news conference in Juneau. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House considers constitutional guarantee for Permanent Fund dividend

The Alaska House of Representatives will vote as soon as Friday morning… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alexei Painter, director of Alaska’s Legislative Finance Division, presents an update of the state’s budget situation for the coming year to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Analysis: Balanced state budget next year can include a $1,535 PFD and $680 BSA increase

However, a “statutory” $3,688 PFD would result in a deficit of more than $1.2 billion, report says.

The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development at its meeting Wednesday in Juneau. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska’s education board sends a $500M wish list for construction and maintenance to lawmakers

The state’s Board of Education and Early Development approved a priority list… Continue reading

Most Read