Both the Haines Borough Assembly and the planning commission agreed that $2.6 million in upgrades to the Lutak Dock should top the borough’s capital requests “wish list” to the Alaska Legislature for the upcoming year.
The assembly ranked 13 local projects according to most pressing need and adopted a resolution establishing those priorities during its Dec. 11 meeting.
The planning commission also recommended during its Dec. 6 meeting to place the dock upgrades, which would include repairs and improvements to facilitate the dock’s potential establishment as a transshipment port for ore and other minerals, at the top of the list.
Sewer system upgrades ranked second on the list and include $350,000 for health and safety upgrades, $500,000 for sewer plant roof replacement, and $125,000 for West Fair Drive sewer main replacement. The planning commission also concurred with the top prioritization of the sewer system upgrades.
The two bodies diverged on where to put the Lutak/Oceanview area slump mitigation and drainage improvements. Though the assembly ultimately put the project in the third place position, the planning commission did not even place it in the top six.
Assembly member Debra Schnabel made a motion during the Dec. 11 meeting to move the high school and pool locker room upgrades and mechanical systems up to the fourth position. Schnabel also moved to raise the Mosquito Lake school sprinkler system up to the fifth position, bumping $1.25 million in Third Avenue road improvements and the public safety building down to sixth and seventh, respectively.
“Though I certainly am excited and energized by the challenge before us for a public safety building, to prioritize it as highly as it is right now implies that we know kind of where we’re going with that. And it’s still in such a conceptual phase for me that I think we can afford to move it down on the list,” Schnabel said.
Schnabel’s motion carried 4-1, with assembly member Norm Smith opposed.
Smith moved to place the $200,000 Mosquito Lake school sprinkler system project at the top of the list, but the motion was not seconded and so failed.
After the seventh place public safety building came road maintenance equipment, Port Chilkoot dock improvements, high school air handling unit replacement, vocational education building mechanical upgrades, high school roof survey and assessment, and Mosquito Lake school air handler replacement.
While borough priorities can help guide legislators when making funding decisions, other factors contribute to the formation of the state’s capital budget, including the governor’s priorities and the requests of other communities in the district.
“It doesn’t necessarily lock the legislature into going sequentially down the list, but that would be the preference of the borough,” Earnest said.
The resolution also included the addition of the Shakwak Project to the second section of the list, which asks the state to support certain projects concerning funding from the federal government.
Shakwak is an agreement between the United States and Canadian governments regarding the construction and maintenance of the North Alaska Highway. Congress failed to renew funding for the Shakwak Project in this year’s Highway Bill, which could cause the Yukon Territorial Government to shift maintenance money to other Canadian road systems.
Earnest said the prioritized projects need to be submitted online through a computer program called CAPSIS by early February.