The front page of the Juneau Empire on April 11, 2004. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The front page of the Juneau Empire on April 11, 2004. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week ending April 13

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Empire Archives is a series printed every Saturday featuring a short compilation of headline stories in the Juneau Empire from archived editions in 1984, 1994 and 2004.

This week in 1984, the Juneau City-Borough Assembly’s Finance Committee last week heard good news and news that wasn’t as bad as first thought. The good news is the municipally owned Bartlett Memorial Hospital is operating with a surplus and will not seek a rate increase to finance its operations during the 1985 fiscal year. The Assembly also heard more about a $1.02 million budget for the city-borough’s new computer system. The hospital budget presentation calls for a $12.46 million budget. It does not include a pay raise for hospital employees despite a recommendation by administrator Jim Burns that a 2.9% cost-of-living increase be included. While the hospital is currently operating in the black and has a surplus of $2.4 million, Burns warned today that the surplus will not last when the hospital’s expansion begins. The hospital wants to expand by adding a new wing for 30 patient beds.

Today Bartlett Regional Hospital is facing a major financial chasm, with top officials stating the hospital could have a negative cash balance within three years unless major operational changes are made. The hospital has suffered several million dollars in operational losses during the past four years and expects that to continue during the coming year. Officials said nationwide staff shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — resulting in high labor costs — plus taking on many community projects such as hospice and home care are among the reasons the hospital is losing money.

Original Story: “Hospital operating in the black, Assembly told,” by Christopher Jarvis. 4/10/1984.

This week in 1994, looking at a $400,000 budget deficit this year, Bartlett Memorial Hospital is considering cutting back on staffing hours, raising rates and trimming some positions next year if revenues don’t bounce back. At a special board meeting Wednesday, hospital board members gave administrator Bob Valliant approval to cut the equivalent of 5.5 jobs at the hospital, although no layoffs are expected anytime soon. Valliant said he needed board approval to notify staff — mostly in non-union administrative positions — that they might be laid off. He said he plans to wait and see if hospital revenues improve over the summer as the new fiscal year begins July 1. The hospital also expects to cut back staff hours equivalent to almost six jobs beginning July 1. No staff will be laid off, but Valliant said overtime hours will be trimmed and staff will be sent home early when the patient census is light.

Original Story: “Hospital may hike rates, trim jobs,” by Jeanine Pohl. 4/8/1994.

This week in 2004, it may cost $1.8 million more than previously expected to build the Dimond Park high school, according to professional cost estimates. The school’s planners may have to reduce the number of classrooms to balance the construction budget, city officials say. City engineers are also concerned that in Juneau’s current bidding climate the low bids may be higher than expected, and they’d like to see the project’s scope decreased for that reason as well. In recent years, low bids were higher than expected for the renovation of Juneau-Douglas High School, construction and renovation at Bartlett Regional Hospital, and construction of a federal fishing center at Point Lena. The cost to prepare the site for construction, at $5.2 million, was estimated at $600,000 more than an estimate done in September of 2003. The building’s construction cost, at $40.75 million, was estimated at $1.2 million more than September of 2003.

Today that building, which became Thunder Mountain High School, will be converted to a middle school due to a districtwide consolidation of schools resulting from a massive budget shortfall and declining student enrollment.

Original Story: “New school’s cost may swell by $1.8 million,” by Eric Fry. 4/11/2004.

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