Assembly to Look at Tennis Courts
How Did $10 million in New Construction Get Packaged with Renovation Money?
Out of $107 million in funds allocated from the State of Alaska to Anchorage, it's $10.5 million that's sparked the most controversy.
On Tuesday (Nov. 19), the Anchorage Assembly will discuss how to implement plans to renovate some of the city's aging infrastructure. In the Assembly, there's been some confusion about what to do with part of the $37 million slated to help do so.
Several state legislators, including Sens. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) and Anna Fairclough (R-Anchorage), said in phone conversations they didn't notice the money allocated for a new multi-sports facility. That could be because the request for the money was wrapped in the request for maintenance money.
Assembly Budget Chair, Bill Starr, explained how the city formally requests money from the state. The Anchorage Assembly puts together a list of projects, the legislative priority book.
When asked where the tennis courts were in last year's request, Starr says, "they're not in there." He showed other projects for libraries and maintenance on the Dempsey-Anderson ice arena.
The Legislature looks at each city's proposal and decides what to keep and what to scratch.
Last year, lawmakers passed a final draft. House Bill 18 was 154 pages long. Some line items were as small as $2,000. Anchorage's money for renovations was under one line that said "Anchorage Project 80's."
Starr says the Alaska Tennis Association lobbied the Legislature directly to get the money for their courts.
"Alaska Tennis Association did a great job of rallying for their cause - I'm pleased with that," Starr said. "As budget chair, we have that fiscal responsibility and we have to do this right."
Starr's concern is that packaging the money with renovations means it wasn't transparent.
On Tuesday, there are at least three proposed amendments on what to do with the money. Starr proposed one to buy an existing Anchorage tennis court. Another re-allocates the money to improve other sports facilities.
(Copyright © 2013, KTUU-TV and Associated Press)