Lawmakers debate how much to spend on LIO
There’s new debate going on between Alaska lawmakers — how much money should be spent to buy the Legislative Information Office building in Anchorage.
Glass-walled elevators and motion-sensor lights are just some of the costly renovations the state asked the developer to make. It’s work that came a cost, and now someone has to pick up the bill.
“The $32.5 million basically pays off the debt that is out there for construction improvements to the building and for the amount that was borrowed to purchase the Anchor Pub — which is the building next door — which was incorporated into the Legislative Information Office,” Rep. Sam Kito said.
Before those renovations, the property plus the Anchor Pub were assessed at a little under $5 million. The Anchorage municipal property assessor says the current value of the office building is $19 million. The Legislative Affairs Agency, the action arm for the Legislative Council, assessed it at about $20 million.
But the Legislative Council, including Rep. Sam Kito, voted to pay about 60 percent more. The developer has yet to accept the Legislature’s $32.5 million offer.
Others in the Legislature think it’s a bad deal. Sen. Bill Wielechowski says the state made a mistake, because today the developer owes more in loans than the building is worth on the market.
Now the question is: Who should have to pay for that mistake, the developer or Alaskans?
“We’ve got a $4 billion deficit. There are cuts being proposed for seniors, for foster kids, for education, for university, and we simply can’t afford to go into this big palatial building,” said Sen. Wielechowski.
Wielechowski said the developer took the risk to build the offices, so Alaskans shouldn’t foot the bill. However, Rep. Kito said a large portion of the bill comes from the Legislature itself, through those requested upgrades.
“You have about $30 million worth of debt that was asked for by former Legislatures to do work on the building,” said Kito.
For now, the $32.5 million offer stands and the lease is paid through June. After that, legislators don’t have anywhere to go immediately.