On Sunday, the Alaska Legislature adjourned after approving a $2.29 billion capital projects budget that includes $56 million in projects for House District 35, which includes all of the Kodiak Island Borough.
That amount is down from last year’s record $132.4 million allocation to the district, but in a year when the Legislature cut statewide operational budgets, it might be as big an accomplishment as last year’s figure, even if the absolute dollar amount isn’t as high.
“I think we did a good job overall,” said Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak).
Each year, the Senate drafts the state’s capital projects budget while the House drafts the operations budget. Both houses of the Legislature then switch projects, with final approval typically coming on the final day of the session.
Heading into the legislative session, both Stevens and Rep. Alan Austerman (R-Kodiak) predicted the Legislature would take a hard line on budgets.
With that in mind, Stevens, Austerman and Rep. Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham agreed to a capital projects strategy. Stevens would insert projects into the budget — albeit at a low funding level — and Austerman and Edgmon would increase the amount of funding once the budget reached the House.
“I was able to put a lot of projects in there that I knew were not fully funded but were at least placeholders,” Stevens said.
How successful was that approach?
Austerman’s House District 35 and Edgmon’s House District 36, which together comprise Stevens’ Senate District R, will receive a combined $132. 3 million — more than any other Alaska Senate district.
“It was a team effort, and Alan (Austerman) did a good job,” Stevens said.
For his part, Austerman said that while he tried to get Kodiak what it needed, he also kept in mind the idea that state revenue is going down, not up. “It doesn't necessarily meet what we want in Kodiak, it meets what we need,” he said.
Austerman said he tried to emphasize funding for projects that can be closed out this year — long-term efforts that needed one last bit of funding.
In Akhiok, $955,000 will go to a long-awaited water treatment plant. Akhiok vice mayor, city manager and water treatment plant supervisor Dan McCoy said if the money comes through, it will be the conclusion of a 10-year effort.
“As long as the governor don't veto us there, that should be more than a Band-Aid fix; that should get us 20 years down the road if it's maintained and taken care of properly,” he said.
It would also mean the end of bottled and boiled water for a community that has long lacked safe drinking water from the tap.
In Ouzinkie, $2.5 million has been allocated to replace a dam that provides power and water for Spruce Island residents.
Mayor Dan Clarion said that money would pay for construction of a new road to the dam and replacement of the dam itself, which a 2011 inspection found was dangerously unsafe.
Like Akhiok’s vice mayor, however, he cautioned that no funding is assured until governor Sean Parnell approves the budget.
The governor has several weeks to approve the budget or exercise his line-item veto. Last year, Parnell vetoed only $6.6 million in projects, the lowest amount of his tenure.
Austerman and Stevens each said they don’t expect the governor to veto much from the capital budget but acknowledged they haven’t received official word.
“I don’t think there’s going to be anything the governor will veto this year,” Stevens said.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at email@example.com.
• Akhiok water and sewer repairs: $955,000
• Monashka Reservoir pump house replacement: $500,000
• Kodiak Island Borough landfill treatment plant: $4.529 million
• Old Harbor airport improvements: $4.47 million
• Ouzinkie dam replacement: $2.5 million
• Port Lions dock and ferry terminal: $3.5 million
• Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation District computer backup system: $5,000
• Kodiak Area Native Association expansion: $500,000
• Kodiak Electric Association backup diesel project: $5 million
• Kodiak Historical Society storage: $7,750
• Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association hatchery maintenance: $3.3 million
• Head Start bus: $45,000
• Senior Citizens of Kodiak drainage: $27,400
• Alaska Aerospace maintenance: $400,000
• Kodiak National Guard armory maintenance: $900,000
• Kodiak region state parks maintenance: $25,000
• Kodiak airport runway safety area expansion: $27.6 million