SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Alaska capital budget set to fund diverse range of projects


May 02, 2006

A version of the capital budget recently proposed by lawmakers spreads more than $2 billion worth of love across Alaska, and special interests, towns and cities are about to soak it in.

The Homer hockey rink would get a new Zamboni to replace an old clunker that came from Fairbanks. The town of Hooper Bay, where most of the estimated 1,100 people use honeybuckets, would get $9.2 million worth of flush toilets and running water.




No project seems too big or too small: Ketchikan could get $144,500 for the local rod-and-gun club and $91 million for the Ketchikan-Gravina Island bridge.

The capital budget is the state's annual shopping list. Unlike the operating budget, which pays people's salaries, it includes money for schoolbooks, buildings, roads and bridges - and lawmakers are still tinkering with it.

Monday night, the Senate Finance Committee planned to make amendments to the latest version of the budget, and eventually the Senate, House and governor will all have to sign off on it, said Cheryl Frasca, the governor's budget director.

Five years ago, before the days of $60-a-barrel oil, the capital budget was about $1.31 billion, according to the state Office of Management and Budget.

This week, a version of the budget totaled $2.35 billion in money from the state, federal government and other sources.

The proposed 116-page budget has a little something for everybody. There is $40,000 to buy a van for Chenega Bay and $93.6 million toward the Knik Arm Bridge, $20,000 for a North Pole High School mobile computer lab and $12.5 million for a restart of the dormant Healy coal plant.

Many small communities have big plumbing projects in the budget. In Hooper Bay, roughly $6.8 million in federal money and about $2.3 million in state funds will be used to, among other things, hook up roughly 60 homes with water and sewer, said Bill Griffith, facility programs manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation's water division.

That could go a long way toward combating the spread of disease, said city administrator Raphael Murran. Almost no one in the village has running water.

The Senate added $500,000 for a sports dome in South Anchorage and $20,000 for the Juneau archery club to the governor's version.

There's more than one Zamboni on the list, as an Anchorage nonprofit could get $100,000 for its own replacement rig.

The budget includes $7 million for the Anchorage 100th Avenue extension and $10 million for the expansion of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

About $1.5 billion of the budget proposed by the Finance Committee on Friday would pay for state Department of Transportation projects.

Most of that money comes from the federal government, but one of the biggest items on the list is $45 million in state funding to help build a road- ferry link connecting Juneau and Haines.

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Ketchikan, Alaska