February 27, 2014 | Vol. 40, No. 9

Tight state budget could delay municipal remodel

Petersburg Mayor Mark Jensen and Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht spent time in Juneau with legislators last week lobbying for state funding for the municipal building remodel.

“We got a pretty unified message,” Giesbrecht said. “There’s just not a lot of money this year.”

The borough has around $4 million of the $9.7 million required to renovate the municipal building comprised of the police station and municipal offices.

Borough staff and officials will find out in April if the legislature includes the remodel in its capital project list.

“Once we know those numbers we’ll know whether we might have to go for a bond issue,” Giesbrecht said. “At this point I don’t expect the legislature to fund the whole thing and I don’t think going to the voters for almost a $6 million bond will be successful.”

If the legislature doesn’t provide funding, the project might have to be put on hold or, if it’s partially funded, the borough could apply for a lesser bond amount.

The assembly could also request the legislature re-appropriate funds left over from the Commercial Drive Down project which came in at a bid of $2 million under cost estimates.

Roughly $1.5 million of the borough’s funding for the municipal remodel is from the legislature approved re-appropriated money leftover from the fire hall project.

“Personally, I wouldn’t recommend pulling money out of that (drive down) project until that project’s done,” Giesbrecht said.

Corey Wall with MRV Architects presented the designs during last week’s assembly meeting.

Current designs include features such as an enclosed garage for police vehicles, a front entry and canopy, an expanded north parking lot, metal siding, prefabricated detention cells with electronic surveillance and controls, and better insulation.

Jensen and Giesbrecht traveled to Juneau with last week’s assembly approved design plans to show legislators.

“We’re, in my mind, better than we were last year because now we have a plan that the assembly has blessed,” Jensen said. “I guess we’ll just have to hold our breath.”

In order for the project to bid by the March 2015 proposal, the borough would need to secure funding by this fall.

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