Legislature(2001 - 2002)

05/02/2001 03:12 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 27 - NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY IN JUNEAU                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CHENAULT announced  that the  committee would  hear SENATE                                                               
JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 27,  Relating to  an Alaska  National Guard                                                               
Armory in Juneau.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0094                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JESSE   KIEHL,  Staff   to  Senator   Kim  Elton,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, introduced SJR 27 on  behalf of Senator Elton, prime                                                               
sponsor.   He  explained that  the  Juneau armory  needs to  move                                                               
because it  sits on land owned  by the Mental Health  Land Trust,                                                               
which  has  plans  to  redevelop  it for  other  purposes.    The                                                               
resolution  therefore expresses  to  the  federal government  the                                                               
legislature's  support for  a  new  armory.   He  noted that  the                                                               
federal  government will  soon begin  ranking armory  projects, a                                                               
process that he believes should be completed by late June.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0208                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MAC METCALFE  came forward to  testify as  a private citizen.   A                                                               
National Guard  member and sergeant  since 1988, he  told members                                                               
it is  critical for every  region in the  state to have  a strong                                                               
National  Guard presence,  simply for  emergency services.   Both                                                               
Bethel  and Nome  have battalion  headquarters,  as does  Juneau,                                                               
which requires a  full-time staff of about 15 people  in order to                                                               
coordinate  in  times  of  emergency.    Furthermore,  there  are                                                               
armories in  nearly every  community in  Southeast Alaska  and in                                                               
many villages;  an emergency would require  headquarters staff in                                                               
order  to  coordinate  with   emergency  services  in  Anchorage.                                                               
Without  an armory  in Juneau,  the headquarters  could be  moved                                                               
elsewhere, which  would not  be good  for the  whole region.   He                                                               
noted that the  leases will be up  in two or three  years for the                                                               
Subport and the armory in Juneau.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0364                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CAROL  CARROLL,   Director,  Administrative   Services  Division,                                                               
Department  of  Military  and   Veterans'  Affairs  (DMVA),  came                                                               
forward and  urged the committee's positive  consideration of SJR                                                               
27.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0419                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CARROLL responded  to a  question  from Representative  Kott                                                               
regarding a $1.7 million [total]  appropriation to the DMVA.  She                                                               
said   several   years   ago   a   [$1.6   million]   legislative                                                               
appropriation was  received to replace the  armory; she indicated                                                               
the  DMVA had  looked  at a  site  and dealt  with  the City  and                                                               
Borough  of  Juneau  to  get   a  site  near  the  Department  of                                                               
Transportation  and  Public  Facilities.    Money  was  spent  on                                                               
looking  at  the  design  and   doing  site  analysis  from  that                                                               
appropriation.  Within  the last year or so,  however, [the DMVA]                                                               
has been  working with the  University of Alaska  Southeast (UAS)                                                               
to look  at a joint-use  facility near Auke [Bay],  which perhaps                                                               
the National  Guard Bureau  will view  more favorably  because it                                                               
looks  at joint-use  facilities  more  favorably than  single-use                                                               
facilities now.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT asked  where the  location would  be if  the                                                               
federal appropriation were  made in the next four  to six months.                                                               
He also asked whether the project  is far enough along that there                                                               
is a  good plan  and whether the  existing infrastructure  at UAS                                                               
would be used.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. CARROLL responded that she  believes the effort now is toward                                                               
working with  the UAS plot.   There is  a design that  is "pretty                                                               
much  complete"  for  a  facility that  can  be  situated  there,                                                               
involving joint use of the  armory-gymnasium.  She emphasized the                                                               
belief  that joint  use would  place  the project  higher on  the                                                               
federal government's  priority list.   In response to  a question                                                               
by Representative Green,  she said the $1.6 million  is a general                                                               
fund  amount, some  of  which has  been spent.    If the  federal                                                               
government  provided money,  the  remainder of  the $1.6  million                                                               
would be used for the facility  and wouldn't revert to the state.                                                               
The problem  is that [the  DMVA] has received authority  from the                                                               
legislature  to  receive  the  federal money,  but  has  not  yet                                                               
received any of that money.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0691                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CARROLL,  in  further   response  to  Representative  Green,                                                               
explained  that   armories  cost  different  amounts   of  money.                                                               
Sometimes there  is a 75/25  percent match, depending  on whether                                                               
it is a  joint-use facility.  The mix of  funding depends on what                                                               
the square  footage is  used for.   Sometimes  it is  100 percent                                                               
general funds, and sometimes it is 100 percentage federal money.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN   asked  whether  its  being   a  joint-use                                                               
facility would help or hinder  regarding the state's contribution                                                               
in the mix.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. CARROLL answered that there  will be two entities coming back                                                               
to  the  legislature  and  requesting   additional  funds:    the                                                               
university, asking  for money  for the  facility, and  the state,                                                               
asking  for   the  additional  amount  needed   to  complete  the                                                               
facility.  She deferred to Mr. Kiehl for details.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0799                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KIEHL reported  that the  university regents  have put  this                                                               
joint facility on their request  list as one of their priorities.                                                               
The  university anticipates  spending approximately  $5.3 million                                                               
on its  share of the facility.   According to the  current design                                                               
and  the  federal  formula  for   sharing  different  pieces  for                                                               
different  purposes, Mr.  Kiehl said  "we" are  anticipating that                                                               
the  federal government  will pay  approximately $5.3  million as                                                               
well.   Under the current  design, the  state match for  the non-                                                               
university armory portion will be  approximately $3.1 million, of                                                               
which $1.7 million [total] has been appropriated.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL  emphasized that the  joint-use facility  appears today                                                               
to be  the most cost-efficient way  to meet the missions  of both                                                               
the National Guard  and UAS.  Both organizations  believe that it                                                               
will effectively meet their needs  and will be significantly less                                                               
expensive  than  two facilities.    However,  should a  joint-use                                                               
facility not  meet the needs  of both  entities or make  sense to                                                               
the legislature, it  won't happen that way.   Mr. Kiehl concluded                                                               
by  pointing out  that SJR  27 doesn't  make an  appropriation or                                                               
bind  the state.   The  legislature will  have control,  when the                                                               
time comes, should  the federal government approve  funding for a                                                               
Juneau armory.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0937                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CHENAULT asked  whether the  estimate for  the project  is                                                               
$13.7 million  to $14  million for  the total  project, including                                                               
federal funds.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL said that is in the correct ballpark.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT asked whether there would be an estimated 35-to-                                                                 
40 percent  match from the  federal government.  He  suggested it                                                               
would be $8.4 million in  state funds [for the university portion                                                               
plus the armory portion] versus $5.3 million in federal money.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL said it would  be approximately 30-some percent for the                                                               
state.    He  specified  that  the  federal  government,  to  his                                                               
understanding, won't share in the  costs associated with strictly                                                               
the university's  use, such as a  hypothetical racquetball court,                                                               
for example.  He apologized for not having the design with him.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1056                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL, in response to  a question from Representative Cissna,                                                               
explained that most parts of  the building would be used jointly,                                                               
to his understanding.   A large, open space is  needed for both a                                                               
university recreation facility (for  the gymnasium) and an armory                                                               
(for  mustering and  training).   In addition,  both need  locker                                                               
rooms and showers.  However,  the university doesn't need offices                                                               
for the  guard headquarters company,  for example,  and therefore                                                               
wouldn't share in the costs or use of those.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL noted  that the guard and the university  would have to                                                               
work  out whether  guard members  would have  access to  strictly                                                               
recreational  facilities,  as  they   work  out  their  joint-use                                                               
arrangement.  The  biggest concern would be that in  the event of                                                               
some  national  disaster or  a  civil  or military  emergency  in                                                               
Southeast  Alaska, the  university  would  lose its  recreational                                                               
facility for a  while; however, the university is  fully aware of                                                               
that and agrees it is a good tradeoff.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KIEHL reiterated  that  if, early  on,  this joint  facility                                                               
doesn't meet  the needs of  both entities  and make sense  to the                                                               
legislature, there  will be separate facilities  planned instead.                                                               
This resolution simply expresses  the legislature's support for a                                                               
new armory in Juneau, which is a definite need.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1246                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA commented  that  there  might be  benefits                                                               
from having guard  members on campus; for  example, guard members                                                               
may want to take classes and  students may want to become members                                                               
of the guard.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1354                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. METCALFE, in  response to a question  by Representative Kott,                                                               
reported  that he  has  talked  to the  people  who designed  the                                                               
armory  that  is  being  presented   in  Washington,  D.C.    The                                                               
university has  asked that the  gymnasium area of the  new armory                                                               
be  expanded;  the  university  would  pay  for  that  expansion,                                                               
including having it enlarged to  be a college-sized court, adding                                                               
bleachers,  and adding  an indoor  track around  the gym.   Right                                                               
now, the  university has no gymnasium.   He pointed out  that the                                                               
current  armory is  a  gymnasium surrounded  by  lockers, with  a                                                               
vault that serves as an armory and  a few offices.  The armory by                                                               
the university would be similar,  with expanded office space [for                                                               
the guard] and an expanded court [for the university].                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1480                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT asked  whether this  is what  the university                                                               
will be coming to the legislature to request funding for.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL responded  that as he understands it, a  portion of the                                                               
earlier appropriation  made by the  legislature for  planning and                                                               
design of  a guard armory has  been expended.  A  design was done                                                               
for an  armory strictly  for the  guard.  He  said the  guard has                                                               
spent a little  more of that money, and the  university has spent                                                               
some money  from its existing  funds to  adapt that design.   Mr.                                                               
Kiehl said he had neither design with him.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1542                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  asked Mr. Metcalfe whether  there would be                                                               
any  downside to  having the  armory  portion be  larger, or  any                                                               
downside  for the  university  in terms  of  mobilization by  the                                                               
guard in an emergency.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  METCALFE said  no.   He added  that Representative  Cissna's                                                               
earlier  point regarding  the association  between the  guard and                                                               
the  students was  a  good one.   Many  students  don't know  the                                                               
economic  benefits of  being  a  guard member.    For example,  a                                                               
person  who  joins   the  guard  receives  $9,000   worth  of  GI                                                               
[Government Issue]  benefits; a  person who already  has existing                                                               
student loans  receives $10,000 towards  paying off  those loans;                                                               
and  a "GI  bill kicker"  can provide  another $4,000  or $5,000.                                                               
That is  all federal money.   Regarding mobilization, he  said he                                                               
sees  no disadvantage,  and  having  a bigger  hall  would be  an                                                               
advantage in any kind of emergency.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA   asked  whether  the  facility   will  be                                                               
approximately  the same  distance  to the  airport  [as from  the                                                               
current armory downtown].                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL explained  that the new armory site isn't  right on the                                                               
main campus.   The plan  is to put it  closer to Auke  Bay, right                                                               
past Horton's on  the hill; there would be  immediate access from                                                               
the main highway.  He said he doesn't see that as a problem.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1695                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN   asked  how   the  funding  mix   for  the                                                               
approximately $14 million will be figured.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  METCALFE said  he knows  that the  university and  the guard                                                               
have worked  together closely  on the  plan; however,  he doesn't                                                               
know  that  they  have  worked   out  the  exact  time  that  the                                                               
university  would have  access  to the  gym.   He  noted that  on                                                               
training  weekends for  the guard,  for  example, the  university                                                               
wouldn't have access.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN  expressed  concern  about  supporting  the                                                               
resolution and  then having to  provide state funds,  which might                                                               
dampen legislators' enthusiasm.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  METCALFE   stated  his  understanding  that   prior  to  the                                                               
university's  involvement,   there  would   have  been   a  75/25                                                               
federal/state split.   He recalled testimony  that the university                                                               
has offered  to put  $5-plus million into  the project  to expand                                                               
the gymnasium.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT  pointed out that university  funds still                                                               
come from the state.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1859                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL emphasized that two designs  have been done [one for an                                                               
armory and  one for  a joint-use  facility], and  the legislature                                                               
will have  the opportunity  to evaluate,  in depth,  the benefits                                                               
and costs to  the state of both.  He  apologized that nobody from                                                               
the  university was  present  that day,  but  offered to  discuss                                                               
Representative  Green's concerns  with  the  university and  with                                                               
other representatives of the guard.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. KIEHL  informed members that  in the past, the  Juneau armory                                                               
project hadn't ranked high enough  on the National Guard Bureau's                                                               
list  to be  funded  either through  a  regular appropriation  or                                                               
through a special appropriation by  U.S. Senator Stevens.  Due to                                                               
recent  changes in  the National  Guard Bureau's  ranking process                                                               
and  criteria, however,  it is  believed that  the Juneau  armory                                                               
project will  rise to that point.   Without that, no  new federal                                                               
share for the Juneau armory would  be possible.  Mr. Kiehl voiced                                                               
confidence  that  SJR  27  will  help  in  the  bureau's  ranking                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2053                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  METCALFE  emphasized that  the  guard  must  be out  of  the                                                               
current armory  in about three  years.   He noted that  there are                                                               
two   headquarters   companies   in  Juneau:      the   battalion                                                               
headquarters  company and  the Alpha  Company  headquarters.   He                                                               
asked where those people would go, and what would happen then.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2084                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN  asked  whether  the City  and  Borough  of                                                               
Juneau would  be willing to  put at least  as much money  [as the                                                               
value of the building being  vacated] into the new armory, should                                                               
it be located on university property.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. METCALFE replied  that the city already has  put up property,                                                               
a site at 7 mile.  Typically,  for an armory project, a city will                                                               
offer  property and  the state  will offer  to match  the federal                                                               
funding.  However,  the university owns the property  at Auke Bay                                                               
[being considered for a joint-use  facility], which is favored by                                                               
the National Guard, to his understanding,  and by himself.  As to                                                               
Representative Green's  specific question,  Mr. Metcalfe  said he                                                               
didn't know.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2173                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT closed public testimony.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT said  he isn't  troubled with  SJR 27.   The                                                               
need  is there.   He  reported  that he  has been  to the  Juneau                                                               
armory, which is  in bad shape, and there is  a definite time for                                                               
the guard  to be out  of that  building, since the  Mental Health                                                               
Land Trust  will evict the  guard in  three years.   He suggested                                                               
there is  a need  for a  fairly aggressive  schedule in  order to                                                               
complete a facility in the existing timeframe.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2210                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT  made  a  motion  to  move  SJR  27  out  of                                                               
committee with  individual recommendations and the  attached zero                                                               
fiscal note.   There being no objection, SJR 27  was moved out of                                                               
the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects