D&H may seek $2.7M in cruise passenger fees

A committee of the Docks and Harbors board of directors reviewed more than $2.7 million in marine passenger fee requests for the Juneau enterprise fund Thursday evening.


Individuals and organizations interested in receiving revenues collected by the local passenger fees, which are assessed at $5 per head on cruise ships with overnight accommodations for 21 or more passengers, in fiscal year 2014 must submit their funding requests to City Manager Kim Kiefer’s office by Dec. 31.

The largest component of the Docks and Harbors list of requests, which must be approved by the full board of directors before it can be submitted to Kiefer, is an item titled “future cruise terminal staging,” for which $1 million in passenger fees is being sought in the draft list approved by the Docks and Harbors CIP/Planning Committee Thursday.

That $1 million would be used to identify and purchase land downtown in order to support the additional passengers who would come in on the large cruise ships that the 16B dock project would accommodate.

Planning Commission approval of the 16B project was appealed earlier this year. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly heard the appeal last month, but no decision has been announced.

Two other projects — “phase four” of the Don D. Statter Harbor project, which would construct a new “passenger for hire” float to accommodate whale-watching and other tourist-oriented charter boats and has yet to secure funding for any of its estimated $5.4 million cost, and proposed downtown public bathrooms that would serve the waterfront area near the new downtown Visitor’s Center — make up the lion’s share of the remaining $1.7 million or so on the draft list.

Eight hundred thousand dollars in passenger fees would be sought for the Statter Harbor float, while for the downtown bathrooms, $500,000 would be requested.

Port Engineer Gary Gillette said the $800,000 for Statter Harbor would give Docks and Harbors a start on planning that phase of the project.

“This is basically planning and permitting money to get the ball rolling,” Gillette explained.

Responding to a question from board member Greg Busch about whether this year’s list includes any request for funding that would go toward the reconstruction of Aurora Harbor, another major Docks and Harbors project, Port Director Carl Uchytil said it does not.

“I’m sensitive about asking for too much marine passenger fees, because we’ve got to be very careful what we ask for and how it’s appropriated,” Uchytil said.

Several minutes later, Busch put forward a motion to the committee.

“I would recommend that the staff provide a list of what they recommend to be the prioritized list for consideration at the board, rather than us doing it as a working group,” Busch said.

Busch’s motion carried without opposition, effectively tabling action on the list for another week.

Docks and Harbors’ board meets next Thursday for its last meeting of the year.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.


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