Alaska clears deferred maintenance backlog


Wildwood Correctional Complex in Kenai needs upgrades to security fencing and a new telephone system; the preliminary installation of Mat-Su needs the sliding doors to be repaired. The State Medical Examiner’s Office in the Anchorage Public Health Laboratory is in need of a fire alarm panel replacement. There are armory projects in Kodiak and Ketchikan and dorm overhauls needed in Bethel and Emmonak. The list of needed upgrades to state facilities is solid. These projects, and many more, will be completed with the steady stream of deferred maintenance funding the state received in the FY23 budget.

The State of Alaska has over 1,800 structures in its inventory, including armories, ferry terminals, sheds, sheds, sand storage buildings, and yes, offices. And they’re spread across the state — from Homer to Haines and Kivalina to King Cove. As these facilities age, the need for additional maintenance increases to keep them in good working order. We have all seen it in the homes we live in or the buildings we work in.

It is the responsibility of the state to safeguard and protect state-owned property. This means carrying out maintenance, operation, repairs, utilities, security, and any other owner responsibilities until the property no longer belongs to the state.

Why defer maintenance? Like any landowner, the state’s to-do list often exceeds available resources. We need to plan repairs and upgrades over a period of time. Like any owner, unforeseen circumstances can even push planned upgrades further into the schedule. For these reasons, it is important to maintain a steady stream of deferred maintenance funding over many years to address life cycle issues.

Recently, the level of deferred maintenance approved in the FY23 budget has come under criticism, even though it is at the normal historical level. Governor Mike Dunleavy initially proposed $42.1 million, and the final budget ended up increasing, to $45.7 million – an additional $23 million supplemental appropriation was signed into law but effective for the prior fiscal year , FY22. The FY23 budget gives us the funding we need to meet our priority needs and matches the capacity we need to deliver on those projects.

Why not even opt for an even higher level of funding? Excellent question. Currently, the market is under severe pressure due to inflation, supply chain issues and an extremely tight labor market. We are cautious about expanding what we can run, and we certainly don’t want our investment to be swallowed up by an unexpected spike in building material prices. We take a measured approach — repair and replace what’s needed this year and plan for future needs.

This summer, we are building several needed upgrades, including structural upgrades to the Ketchikan Pioneer House for the Alaska Department of Health, the Bethel Hangar, and office improvements, for the Department of Health. Alaska Public Safety, Yakutat Boiler Replacement and Atwood Building Electrical Upgrade. in Anchorage for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Facilities.

In FY22, the State of Alaska consolidated the management of many of our public facilities into the Division of Facilities Services (DFS). Installed at the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. DFS includes statewide public facilities (design and construction), maintenance and operations, and statewide leasing. We are working on the effectiveness and efficiency issues that accompany such consolidation and are looking for ways to maximize service to our agency partners and, with our private sector partners, sustain quality upgrades for years to come. come. With a steady, reliable stream of deferred maintenance funding like what happened in FY23, we should be able to modernize our buildings and extend the life of state facilities.

Ryan Anderson, the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

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