Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is asking the Anchorage Assembly to approve funding to pay for a new lobbyist in Juneau.


For $70,000, consultant Jim Lottsfeldt would join existing lobbyist Wendy Chamberlain in an effort to convince lawmakers to fund an improvement project for the Port of Anchorage.


Officials at the 55-year-old port say the facility is long overdue for renovations. The municipality is asking for $290 million from the state to help fund the project.


“There’s a lot of education that needs to be passed on to legislators about the details of the project,” said Port Director Steve Ribuffo. “The focus is to bring some of that lobbying effort forward to help carry that mission out.”


Supporters of the modernization claim the complex would likely collapse in a large earthquake, cutting the state off from key resources. Ribuffo said the port is a crucial piece of infrastructure not just for Anchorage, but the entire state.


“While it is called the port of Anchorage, in reality, it’s the port of Alaska in Anchorage,” said Ribuffo. “It’s the port of anywhere in the state you’ve got a grocery store, a gasoline station [or] a marketplace,” he added.


The assembly has to approve the money needed to hire the lobbyist before he can begin work. If funding for the renovation project is approved by the legislature, it will be included in the state’s bond package on the November ballot.