The Juneau Assembly on Monday night authorized $5 million to go toward a proposed project to combine Centennial Hall with a new arts and culture center, known as the Capital Civic Center, with the hope that it entices federal funding to assist in covering the expected $75 million cost.
The ordinance was approved despite one vote in opposition from Assembly member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs. Assembly member Carole Triem was not present at the meeting.
City manager Rorie Watt explained during the meeting that the $5 million — with funding coming in halves from general funds and hotel-bed tax funds — will essentially remain untouched and unspent with the intention that it stands to show the city’s commitment to the project as it requests federal and state funding.
A nonprofit that advocates for the proposed project, known as the Alliance, was given the OK by the city back in January to seek funding at the state and federal levels for the project, and in February the group submitted a request to Congress for $35 million in funding.
The city had previously appropriated $2 million toward the engineering and design process of the project in December 2021 and and the city passed a resolution in March 2022 allowing up to $10 million in funding from the city’s passenger fee funds to go toward supporting the project as well.
Mayor Beth Weldon called the appropriation a “no-risk situation” as the funds won’t be spent until federal funding is secured, which won’t likely be known for several months.
However, Hughes-Skandijs disagreed, and said the money being stowed away for the potential project is “very real” and the $2.5 million allocation portion from the general funds means that the money now can’t be used for other projects or city needs.
Watt said if the federal funding does not come, the Assembly can come back to the topic and decide how the funds should be used instead. He said it’s likely the funds will go toward further Centennial Hall improvements.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.