FAIRBANKS — Seven percent of areawide taxes collected annually by the borough — roughly $7.5 million — must go toward facilities maintenance under an ordinance that recently took effect.
The measure by Assemblyman Aaron Lojewski is the latest move by borough leaders aimed at tackling a building maintenance backlog at the Fairbanks North Star Borough that is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It’s setting a policy that we have to do this every year,” Lojewski said.
The assembly approved the proposal unanimously last week.
Borough Mayor Bryce Ward said Wednesday that he is not anticipating the new requirement to be difficult to achieve in the 2019-20 budget under development. The current year’s budget reflects a shift in resources toward building maintenance, he said.
Ward’s predecessor, Karl Kassel, put a spotlight on the borough’s growing maintenance backlog during his administration.
The borough is responsible for upkeep at dozens of public buildings, including pools, libraries, arenas and all area schools. For many years, the municipality relied on state support to take care of those facilities, but that support has dried up as the state faces its own budget woes.
Borough leaders have been putting aside extra money, mainly from court judgments and settlements, for building maintenance in recent years.
Ward said he is prioritizing maintenance projects and will propose a 10-year capital projects plan in the coming months.
He is also considering asking the assembly to approve a bond question for the October ballot. Voters last fall rejected two ballot measures aimed at raising money for building maintenance.
Proposition 1 would have financed a new animal shelter, roofs at two schools and improvements to the Carlson Center through $36.6 million in public bonds. The debt would have added about $35 per $100,000 worth of property to tax bills.
About 55 percent of the voters rejected the measure.
Proposition 2 would have authorized the assembly to raise property taxes for building maintenance outside of the tax cap, a long-standing voter-mandated cap on revenues that the borough can collect.
Nearly 62 percent of voters rejected Proposition 2.
Also last fall, the assembly allocated $1.6 million to create a new asset management system. The multiyear project involves equipment, software, data collection and four public employees to create and launch the new digital system.
The system will help the borough look after buildings, roads, parks, ballfields, fire stations and schools with detailed timetables on when aspects of the facilities — boilers or roofs, for example — need to be maintained or replaced. The system will handle planning, scheduling and expense tracking.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMborough.