If a ballot initiative, aimed at giving Alaska's coastal communities a say in their resource management, eventually becomes law, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, R-Alaska, says it would cost the state about $5.4 million every year.

“We feel fairly confident that the cost estimate we had of about $5.4 million a year,” Treadwell says.

In the case of ballot initiatives, state law requires Treadwell, who is in charge of state elections, to provide voters the same type of cost estimates lawmakers receive when they are deciding whether to vote on a bill.

“I’m required by law to do this,” Treadwell says.  “I’m not taking a position on the initiative. I’m an impartial election official.”

Treadwell says measure supporters, known as the Alaska Sea Party, are $700,000 short in estimating how much it would cost to bring back the program.  A summer special session failed to save it.

The state estimates it would end up paying $22.3 million over five years, with federal dollars easing some of the burden beginning in the third year. 

“We're estimating $2 million a year after the third year or so,” Treadwell says, unsure if that money will actually materialize.   

“We're not sure how much the federal government would kick into the program,” Treadwell says.

Given the current congressional climate that is not clear.  Neither are the final estimated figures.

“It sets up a coastal policy board that can decide for itself when it wants to meet,” Treadwell says. “Also can set for itself what its program is. What it wants to do.”

Acting as a private citizen, Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, is a Alaska Sea Party supporter.  Kerttula feels Treadwell’s federal contribution estimates are too low.

“With the amount of federal land and water in Alaska, there is no way they will not contribute more,” Kerttula says.  “We’re the only state without a Coastal Zone Program. And they (the federal government) want us to have it."

Since Treadwell has now come up with the cost estimate, petition booklets will be printed for measure sponsors.  They have one year to gather 27,000 signatures. 

However, for the initiative to appear on either August or November's ballots, supporters must turn all required signatures into lawmakers by the time the legialtive session begins Jan. 17.

Contact Matthew at msimon@ktuu.com