Opinion: The JACC is bad business for tax payers

The Assembly should not keep increasing the size of local government.

  • Sunday, September 22, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion

The new JACC will be on the ballot in October for support for a $4.5 million investment by the taxpayers of Juneau. It has been promoted as a public-private partnership as a 75% private and 25% public partnership. There are three big questions that haven’t been answered

First, the citizens voted to have a sales tax to obtain the funds for repairing Centennial Hall. Centennial Hall is a hole to dump money down; it has never paid its way. The Assembly took $4.5 million for the JACC out of the Centennial Hall commitment and decided to ask us to bond $7 million for repairs to Centennial Hall that are not designed so reasonable cost estimates can be made. What does the Assembly plan to do with the $7 million in sales tax that was committed to Centennial Hall?

Second, the “promise” in the ballot measure is that if JACC committee doesn’t raise 90% of their share of the funds required to build the JACC, they won’t get the 4.5 million. So 75% of 26 million is 19.5 million. 19.5 million plus the 4.5 million only gets to 24.0million, not enough to complete the project based on current estimates. Where is the additional 2.0 million or more coming from?

Third, the JACC committee says their feasibility study says the JACC will be profitable in three years. We were told a similar story about Eaglecrest and Centennial Hall, neither of which has ever paid their operating expenses, let alone a profit. What private organization is going to be responsible for the losses if the feasibility study is wrong due to a recession, war with Iran, or an oil price crash? What guarantees do the taxpayers of Juneau have that a failure of the JACC to pay its bills won’t be another albatross to support?

Vote “no” on all three ballot items until we have a sound business plan for financing and operating the JACC. The sales tax money is still there for Centennial Hall and the tax cap is still effective so the Assembly cannot keep increasing the size of local government.

• John D. Cooper resides in Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

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