Of the nine ballot propositions in front of voters on Election Day, only one was rejected, but with thousands of votes still uncounted the story of Proposition 3 is far from over.
The success or failure of the proposition could have big implications for the future of the Loussac Library, according to Assembly member Bill Starr.
Prop 3 asked taxpayers to take on $5.55 million in debt to improve public facilities like libraries and sport complexes. The Loussac would get $2.75 million of the bond to remodel the library’s front entrance, install an interior book drop, and pay for other renovations.
Also benefiting from Prop 3 would be the Anchorage Golf Course, getting half a million dollars to keep its facilities up to code. The Chester Creek sports complex parking lot expansion project and the Mulcahy Stadium Relocation would also share $1.75 million of the bond.
Unofficial returns Wednesday showed Prop 3 losing by a narrow margin: 18,818 voters, or 49.62 percent in favor of the bond, versus 19,107 voters, or 50.38 percent voting it down.
That’s a difference of 289 votes, a razor-thin margin that is less than one percent of the 38,803 votes cast.
With as many as 6,000 absentee votes cast before Election Day, and potentially hundreds more cast in person on Tuesday, the decision on Prop 3 could easily shift.
If it fails, “we’re clearly more dependent on the legislative request from Juneau to help with the library situation,” Starr said.
Fresh from being re-elected to his Chugiak/Eagle River seat on the assembly, Starr said the assembly could shift as much as $1.2 million from other short-term appropriations to the Loussac.
The long-term effects of a Prop 3 failure, however, would imperil the $10 million the city is asking from the state legislature for library renovations.
A “no” vote on Prop 3 would signal to lawmakers that "the city has no skin in the game for an area match.” Starr said that “may dissuade Juneau from putting money into (the library).”
“It would have surely shown our commitment to our own facilities at a local level,” he said.
Local support for a key capital project that Starr says is necessary after the legislature is “still stinging” from the Project 80s earmark that saw millions go toward new tennis facilities in the city.
“We asked for Project 80s monies, and it got distracted into new tennis courts,” Starr said. “That’s a tough nut to go back to Juneau” and ask for more library funds.
Anchorage’s lawmakers in Juneau were unavailable Wednesday to comment how the vote on Prop 3 could impact legislative funds for the project.