Anyone who’s driven through downtown Juneau or caught local commercials can see and hear the evidence that people are spending to support the proposed New Juneau Arts & Culture Center.
But there’s also a group working to urge people to vote against a $4.5 million grant for the project, and that group is buying signs, bumper stickers and radio time ahead of the Oct. 1 municipal election.
Worried Juneau Taxpayers is a group that exists to oppose the New JACC-related ballot measure known as Proposition 3, and so far it’s spent thousands of dollars.
Denny DeWitt, chair for Worried Juneau Taxpayers, told the Empire in a phone interview he and the group oppose Prop 3 for a number reasons. Dewitt said he’d rather see taxpayer dollars spent elsewhere, in his opinion the New JACC is not practical and it shouldn’t be built with public funds since it will be a privately owned building.
He sees it as an unnecessary project that’s bound to lose money.
Juneau Arts & Humanities Council Executive Director Nancy DeCherney disagrees with that assessment on all counts. She told the Empire the New JACC project would be a good value for the city, would bring construction work to Juneau, is needed to replace an aging city-owned structure and has a financially viable future.
So far, Worried Juneau Taxpayers have spent $3,228 to spread their message, according to Alaska Public Offices Commission reports. Worried Juneau Taxpayers have collected $6,250 in contributions across 14 contributions, according to the report.
The group’s expenses are spread across three reported checks. Two of them are $114 checks to Alaska Litho Print and Media Services for bumper stickers and the third was a $3,000 check to Juneau Alaska Communications for “radio,” according to reports.
The Partnership, a group that serves as the New JACC’s fundraising branch, has also been spending money, according to reports, and reported expenditures show them far outspending the competition.
Filed expenditure reports show totals of $5,733.60 in a form filed Sept. 8; $4,151.14 for a Sept. 19 form; $12 on a Sept. 20 form and $4,638.18 on a Sept. 20 form.
As an example of where that money is going: Expenses listed on the Sept. 20 report include a $2,016 check to Juneau Radio Center, credit card charges of $859.80 and $228.75 to Commercial Signs and Printing for signs and banners, a credit card charge of $23.63 to Heritage Coffee for coffee for volunteers and a $1,500 check to Partnership campaign manager Minta Montalbo for campaign manager fees.
The New JACC is just one of thee propositions on the ballot. The other two are tied to issuing bonds to provide funding for Centennial Hall renovations and a temporary hotel-motel tax raise to help offset that bond debt.
That’s attracted some spending, too, according to expenditure reports.
A report submitted Sept. 21 shows an entity called Support Centennial Hall that backs the propositions for issuing bonds reported a $9,017.40 check to Juneau Radio Center for a radio advertisement.
“It is not meeting industry standards as far as conventions,” said John McConnochie, one of the group’s officers, of Centennial Hall. “Not only the space, but the AV equipment, and the HVAC badly needs work.”
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.