The Baranof Hotel is located on N. Franklin Street at 2nd Street in downtown Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Baranof Hotel is located on N. Franklin Street at 2nd Street in downtown Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Hotel-motel tax could increase to fund Centennial Hall fixes

Assembly and voter input will shape what happens with New JACC and Centennial Hall

A hotel-motel tax increase could help build a new Juneau Arts & Culture Center and renovate Centennial Hall, but that first needs to go through the Assembly and voters.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly introduced seven ordinances Monday that would mean issuing bonds to fix up Centennial Hall, awarding a grant to help build a New JACC and a Hotel-Motel tax increase to help pay for Centennial Hall if approved by voters.

The reason so many ordinances for propositions — questions that appear on ballots — were introduced is competing ideas for how much funding should go to the New JACC and Centennial Hall projects. There was only one hotel-motel tax-related ordinance introduced.

If OK’d by the Assembly and later by voters in the upcoming Oct. 1 municipal election, one Centennial Hall option would allow the city to issue up to $10 million in 15-year general obligation bonds to help pay for renovations. An alternative idea is to issue up to $7 million in such bonds.

If approved by the Assembly and then voters, a raised hotel-motel tax for 15 years from 7 to 9 percent would help pay off the Centennial Hall-related debt that would be created by the bonds. The hotel-motel tax has not been raised in over 30 years, according to city documents.

A similar increase was proposed last year to help fund the New JACC, but it did not make it to ballots.

[New estimates are in: Here’s what it could cost to fix Centennial Hall and fund the New JACC]

The tax increase would provide an estimated $440,000 per year in additional revenue, according to the Assembly meeting packet, and it would pay off about 45 percent of the $10 million of bonds and 65 percent of the the $7 million alternative.

The Juneau Hotel is located on W. 9th Street off of Egan Drive in downtown Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Juneau Hotel is located on W. 9th Street off of Egan Drive in downtown Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The lion’s share of the debt — 55 percent — would be paid off via a 1-percent increase in the property tax if the $10 million option is chosen.

If the $7 million option wins out, the 35 percent remaining would be paid for by a .4 percent increase in property tax.

New JACC

An ordinance calling for an advisory proposition on New JACC funding was also introduced.

Previously, New JACC’s fundraising nonprofit partnership asked CBJ for $7.5 million in support in order to attract more private donations. The ballot question would ask voters whether the grant should be awarded.

There’s also a grant of $4.5 million being considered instead of the $7.5 million plan.

If the $7.5 million grant is made, $1 million would come from Fiscal Year 2020 sales tax, $3.5 million would come from the sales tax fund balance and $3 million would come from the city’s general fund.

[Live: Propositions introduced, onsite consumption approved under certain conditions and more]

The $4.5 million grant would be funded by $3.5 million in sales tax fund balance and $1 million in sales tax revenue.

The grants as outlined in the ordinance would also come with some conditions — voters would need to approve general obligation bonds for Centennial Hall and the grant funds would not be released until New JACC funding was at 90 percent.

Funding is currently at 21 percent of a $26.4 million goal, according to the New JACC’s website.

Decisions on whether to send these matters to ballots will need to come soon. Aug. 19 is the last regular Assembly meeting at which a ballot proposition can be adopted.

FYI

This year’s municipal election will also feature some Assembly and school board races.

Assembly members with terms up in October 2019 include: Carole Triem, Mary Becker, Alicia Hughes-Skandijs and Wade Bryson. School board members with terms that end in 2019 are Dan DeBartolo, who announced he would not seek re-election, and Steve Whitney.

The filing period for school board and municipal candidacy opens at Aug. 2 and closes at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 12.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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