The Juneau School District’s administration building is at the corner of Glacier Avenue and 12th Street. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Juneau School District’s administration building is at the corner of Glacier Avenue and 12th Street. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Senators weigh extending bond debt moratorium

Bond payments could come back, but at lower rates

A bill in the Alaska Legislature could extend the moratorium on school bond debt reimbursement by another five years, but its only sponsor left the Legislature late last month.

House Bill 106 was submitted by Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, but Wilson left the Legislature late last month to take a job with the Office of Children’s Services. Her House seat is currently empty, and the bill does not have any co-sponsors.

In a Senate Finance Committee meeting Friday morning, committee co-chair Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage decided not to move the bill forward, but to hold it for further consideration.

“This is material. As we are creating our budget, we need to resolve this issue so we know what our cash flow is,” Von Imhof said. She said she wanted the committee to look at the bill again within the next two weeks.

The bill would extend the moratorium that began in 2015 and is set to expire in July, another five years to 2025. If the bill does not pass, Alaska school districts could once again apply for debt relief on new bonds but at reduce rates.

Districts are already facing reduced rates for previously issued bonds due to Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetoes last year.

According to documents prepared by Sen. Natasha Von Imhof’s office, the total estimated bond debt owed by the state to school districts in 2020 is just under $99 million. Under the governor’s vetoes the state is estimated to pay $48 million.

If HB 106 passes into law, any bonds issued by school districts would be paid in full by the local municipality. If it doesn’t pass, any new bonds passed after July 1, will be eligible for reimbursement at 40% or 50%. In the past the state had reimbursed districts at 70% or 80% depending on the project, according to the Department of Education and Early Development.

Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt previously told the Empire a lack of reimbursement from the state would likely lead to higher local taxes as a way of paying back the debt. Watt said the city has the money to pay the debt but would have to tap into its savings account to make the payments.

The City and Borough of Juneau currently has $21 million in debt funding for Fiscal Year 2020, according to DEED. Going forward, the city would take a “minimalist approach” to school maintenance, Watt told the Empire in January.

Von Imhof said the Finance Committee is accepting public comment on the bill. Comments can be submitted by email to: finance.committee@akleg.gov.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.

More in News

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. A medical director at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control says the numbers of active COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern are higher than what has been publicly reported in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID-RML via AP
COVID at a glance for Thursday, April 15

These numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau… Continue reading

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Thursday, April 15, 2021

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

COVID at a glance for Wednesday, April 14

The most recent state and local numbers.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state of Ohio that tried to get the U.S. Census Bureau to provide data used for drawing congressional and legislative districts ahead of its planned release. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)
Alaska joins 15 other states in backing Alabama’s challenge to Census privacy tool

The case could go directly to the Supreme Court if appealed.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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

This photo shows the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer)
CDC freeze on Johnson and Johnson vaccine sets clinics scrambling

The odds of being affected are vanishingly rare, but CDC says better safe than sorry.

After over 30 years at 3100 Channel Drive, the Juneau Empire offices are on the move. (Ben Hohenstatt /Juneau Empire File)
The Juneau Empire is on the move

Advertising and editorial staff are moving to Jordan Creek Center.

Most Read