Legislators postpone decision on Anchorage offices

The Alaska Legislature’s Legislative Council has postponed a decision on its expensive Anchorage offices.

In a presentation Friday, Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and chairman of the council, presented information declaring that staying in the Legislature’s newly remodeled Fourth Avenue Legislative Information Office will cost four times as much as moving lawmakers to an existing state office building.

According to the report, the Legislature will spend $40 million over the next 10 years to keep Anchorage lawmakers’ offices in the Fourth Avenue building. In comparison, moving the Anchorage legislators into the Atwood Building a few blocks away would cost just $10 million over the same period.

The Legislature is renting space in the Fourth Avenue building, which has been deemed the “Taj MaHawker” by critics who scorn Anchorage Republican Rep. Mike Hawker’s close relationship with developer Mark Pfeffer. Hawker negotiated the state’s lease with Pfeffer, who owns the building.

Members of the Legislative Council — which makes decisions for the Legislature out of session — said they wanted more information than that provided by Stevens’ analysis.

The delay will put the Legislature’s decision out of Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed state budget, which is expected on Wednesday. The state is facing a $3 billion gap between annual revenue and expenses, and the Legislature was one of the few branches of state government to avoid budget cuts last year.

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