A Juneau Police Department officer talks on a radio in a patrol car. Officials said JPD’s communications system, which had an end-of-life date in 2014, needs to be replaced to provide improvements such as full radio coverage within the city and borough limits. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)

A Juneau Police Department officer talks on a radio in a patrol car. Officials said JPD’s communications system, which had an end-of-life date in 2014, needs to be replaced to provide improvements such as full radio coverage within the city and borough limits. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)

Voters may be asked to OK $22.75M in bonds to upgrade emergency communications, wastewater treatment

Juneau Assembly will consider two proposed measures, take public comments, at July 1 meeting.

Juneau residents will be asked to approve spending nearly $23 million for projects including a new communications system for emergency response officials and wastewater treatment plant improvements if approved by the Juneau Assembly for the Oct. 1 municipal election ballot.

The Assembly is scheduled at its July 1 meeting to hear public testimony and consider two ordinances placing the bonds on the ballot. One is a $12.75 million bond to “Finance Public Safety Communication Infrastructure,” the other a $10 million bond to “Finance Wastewater Utility Infrastructure.”

Both are major projects that city leaders have been seeking for some time, City Manager Katie Koester said Monday. The Assembly at its meeting on Monday night approved the introduction of the two draft ordinances without discussion as part of the consent calendar, following reviews of the projects involved during previous meetings.

The Juneau Police Department’s radio system, for example, had a 2014 end-of-life date and officials have been trying for the past couple of years to determine how to fund a replacement and related equipment that could cost in the neighborhood of $22 million. Replacing the system is the second-ranked priority on the city administration’s capital improvement projects list for this year, behind a new City Hall that is already being implemented with a move to the Michael J. Burns Building.

Among the shortcomings of the existing communications system cited by police and other local officials are lack of complete radio coverage throughout the Juneau area, plus no GPS coverage for portable radio or encryption.

“We call it the JPD radio system — and then we realize it’s really about (Capital City Fire/Rescue), it’s about JPD, it’s about communicating with Troopers, it’s about Capital Transit,” Koester said. “So it’s far broader than just the police department.”

Some funding toward the new system would be covered by $6 million in capital improvement project funds already allocated to the city manager’s office, federal funds approved by Congress and some revenue from the city’s temporary 1% sales tax, Koester said. The $12.75 million bond request “is the remainder that is necessary.”

The wastewater bond is being sought due to the need to replace facilities that are up to 50 years old, Koester said. She said the work is particularly time-sensitive since erosion and other damage to wastewater treatment infrastructure presents a public safety risk.

Specified in the draft ordinance is “replacement of the wastewater clarifier building at the Juneau Douglas Wastewater Treatment Plant that services Thane, Downtown and Douglas.”

Also, the bond will prevent additional rate increases to pay for the upgrades, Koester said. A 2% water and sewer rate intended to keep pace with inflation, approved by the Assembly in 2019, is already set to take effect July 1.

“Any ability to use a bond to pay for wastewater infrastructure or water infrastructure is just less that the ratepayers will have to pay,” she said.

Passing both bonds would increase the city’s debt service costs by about $2.75 million a year for the 10-year life of the bonds, which would equate to an annual property tax levy of about $42 per $100,000 of assessed value, according to the draft ordinances. However, Koester said that amount could be added to the city’s existing debt service without raising the portion of the overall mill rate that covers such payments.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

A car on Gastineau Avenue is partially buried by a mudslide that occurred during record rainfall on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Photo by Simba Blackman)
New July rainfall record set for Juneau with a week to go; Suicide Basin nears 2023 fill level

No more heavy storms expected this month, according to forecaster.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. Board of Trustees votes for a new chair and vice chair during a meeting in Fairbanks on Wednesday. (Screenshot from APFC livestream)
Ellie Rubenstein resigns from Permanent Fund board, Ethan Schutt displaced as chair in wake of email allegations

Trustees elect new chair, vice chair Wednesday morning; Rubenstein announces resignation hours later

Police and other emergency officials treat Steven Kissack after he was shot on Front Street on Monday, July 15, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Names of officers involved in death of Steven Kissack released, along with more details of standoff

JPD states Kissack threatened to kill officers; one officer who fired gun cleared in 2016 shooting.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks on Jan. 4, 2024, at a town hall meeting on the possible Albertsons-Kroger grocery merger. The meeting was held at the Teamsters Local 959 headquarters in Anchorage. Peltola said on Tuesday she has not decided whether to support her party’s likely candidate, Vice President Kamala Harris. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Mary Peltola withholds support for Kamala Harris, is ‘keeping an open mind’

Congresswoman says she’s considering Harris presidency’s affect on Alaska as an oil-dependent state.

People arrive for a service at Resurrection Lutheran Church on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Lawsuit: Resurrection Lutheran Church leaders have been ousted, clarity in ‘ministerial work’ needed

Pastor Karen Perkins, two others targeted in long-brewing feud at church known for helping homeless.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, July 21, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, July 20, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, July 19, 2024

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

Most Read