Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/26/2001 03:40 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 27-NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY IN JUNEAU JESSIE KIEHL, staff for Senator Elton, extended the Senator's regrets for missing the meeting. The resolution expresses the legislature's support to the federal government for the new National Guard Armory facility in Juneau. The current armory must move because it sits on Alaska Mental Health Trust land and they plan to redevelop the property. The guard proposes working with the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) on a joint facility that will meet many recreational needs for the university and the guard's needs for a mustering and training facility. It would be cost efficient to have a joint facility. The federal reviewing and scoring process for this and other similar projects begins soon. Although this project stands an excellent chance for approval, an expression of legislative support would improve its chances. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said the last paragraph of the sponsor statement talks about a 1998 legislative appropriation. He asked whether any federal funds have been received. MR. KEIHL was not sure whether any federal funds had been received but there was a state appropriation of about $1.6 million, a portion of which was spent and another portion allocated upon initial site design and preparation. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked when the state appropriation occurred and whether the 1998 appropriation was from the general fund. MR. KEIHL said he discussed the $1.6 million appropriation with Carol Carroll from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Department of Natural Resources and Niko Bus from the Department of Natural Resources. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT questioned the need for the resolution since monetary support had already been given: Was it needed before the federal process could begin? He also wanted to know what type of expense could be expected, what the blending of funds would be for a joint project and whether this project would obligate the next year's capital budget for future appropriations. MR. KEIHL said a representative of the university was present and could add to his answer. In response to the first question, he said the resolution is not a precursor to or essential for the federal review of the request for a new armory in Juneau. It does however, provide an expression of the state's interest and support and would be helpful in ranking the project. KEITH GERKIN, Director of Facilities for the University of Alaska Southeast, emphasized their support of the resolution and project. Both agencies have been looking for solutions to their independent facility needs. In the last year, they have talked about a joint project and have completed 35 percent of the design work for a facility that would be situated on university property. This is an efficient use of resources because the buildings are very expensive to build and operate and they will get more building by combining resources than by building individual facilities. The university's share to build the facility will be $5.3 million and that amount is in its statewide capital multiyear plan. Previously there have been both federal and state general fund appropriations for design work for the Alaska National Guard's portion. This resolution is an effort to get the priority for the construction money from the federal government. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if this would then obligate the state to produce the $5.3 million general fund money. MR. GERKIN said it would and he thought there was additional match of federal dollars for the National Guard portion. Someone from Military and Veteran's Affairs would be in a better position to talk about the federal monies. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked what specific facilities the university was looking at. MR. GERKIN responded they are lacking indoor intramural or organized sporting facilities. Recreational facilities are expected as a part of normal student life and UAS has been trying to fulfill the need for the last 15 years. The current plan is to expand the National Guard's drill hall to the size of a gymnasium. There would be lockers, showers and exercise rooms and a running track that would be used by both user groups. Several classrooms in the facility are in the National Guard plan. Student service areas are planned that would be used to assemble for activities and dances. In the event of a disaster or National Guard priority, the university would suspend its use temporarily. Both agencies know it takes accommodation to share the facility but they believe they will be getting more than if they build individually so the inconveniences are workable. SENATOR PHILLIPS asked whether it would include an ice rink. MR. GERKIN said it would not. In the early 1980s that was in the plan but they have scaled back their proposed recreational facility considerably over the years. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked for specifics of the cost and source of funds if the project is 35 percent designed. MR. GERKIN replied the National Guard had a total design in hand when they approached the university about a joint facility. The university and the National Guard made a few modifications to the design to include specific university needs. Costs associated with planning for the modifications were shared. The university paid one-third of the design modifications and that came to about $55,000. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT apologized for not having had the opportunity to express his questions directly to Senator Elton so the information would be available for the hearing. Nonetheless, he was not ready to act on the resolution until he had a full accounting and clearly understood past appropriations and the potential for future obligations. SENATOR DAVIS said she could understand wanting more information but since this was just a resolution and didn't obligate any money, she asked why couldn't the information be given later. After all, the legislative session was about to end. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked whether this was time sensitive due to the process going on with the federal government. MR. KEIHL replied it would need to pass this year to have an impact on the ranking process. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said he was willing to move it from committee but he would like to see the accounting before he, Senator Pearce and Senator Phillips saw it as members of the rules committee. MR. KEIHL said they would be happy to provide the information. Senator Pearce joined the meeting and Chairman Therriault gave her a recap. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked for amendments. There were none. He asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR DAVIS moved SJR 27 and zero fiscal note from committee with individual recommendations and a request that the information be provided to the next committee. There were no objections.