- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The state has suspended a $37 million grant that would pay for Anchorage projects, including construction of a new indoor tennis facility supported by Mayor Dan Sullivan.

The suspension follows questions raised by state Sen. Lesil McGuire, who is running for lieutenant governor against Sullivan in the Anchorage Republican primary, the Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/CYiBjm) reported. Sullivan announced the suspension at a meeting of the Anchorage Assembly Tuesday.

Scott Ruby with the Alaska Department of Commerce said the entire grant was suspended, rather than the $4.4 million earmarked for the tennis courts. Legislators gave the money to the city “in one big pot,” he said. A spokeswoman for Sullivan said none of the grant money designated for the tennis project had been spent as of Monday.

Concerns arose after Ruby’s department received a copy of a letter McGuire sent to Gov. Sean Parnell on Monday that included a legislative attorney’s opinion raising questions about the legality of the tennis project.

The grant is suspended until the state Department of Law can review it, Ruby said.

“This was really a notice to say: ‘Hey, we may have a problem here,’ ” he said. “The Department of Law said we probably want to look at this little bit closer.”

Ruby said he hoped the issue could be resolved within a couple of weeks.

McGuire, R-Anchorage, has proposed that state Senate Finance Committee take the tennis money and reallocate for renovations to Anchorage’s Z.J. Loussac Library.

The tennis project has been the subject of debate between Sullivan, the Anchorage Assembly and state lawmakers.

Some legislatures have said they were unaware when they voted on the state capital budget last year that it included tennis-facility funds. The facility had been listed under a line item for “Project 80’s Deferred and Critical Maintenance.”

The legal opinion sent by McGuire to Parnell said the state money cannot be used to build new tennis courts, given the title of the line item.

Sullivan said legislative-intent language behind the appropriations made it clear what projects would be included within the grant.


Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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