The last day of 2013 is also the final day for Juneau residents and organizations to submit project proposals for marine passenger fee proceeds to be considered in next year’s budget.
Proposals must be received by the City Manager’s office by close of business Tuesday, Dec. 31. The proposal letters will then be posted online Jan. 2, and public comment will be accepted from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15.
City Manager Kim Kiefer will then forward a set of recommendations to the Assembly Finance Committee by March 1. Those proposals will be considered as part of the budget process in the spring.
Last year, 10 entities submitted proposals to the city, and a total of 32 projects were included in the city manager’s final recommendation to the Assembly.
Some of those funds went to pay for medical services at Bartlett Regional Hospital and to medevac programs, while other funds were directed to increasing security personnel downtown when tourists inflate the capital city’s population during summer months.
Several approved projected centered on cleaning public facilities used heavily during the summer, and others were capital projects aimed at improving the docks, waterfront walkways and providing an overall boost to the tourism experience.
The adopted budget for fiscal year 2014 includes $4.94 million in revenue from marine passenger fees. In total, $4.8 million of that was budgeted for various programs and projects, including about $1.1 million for capital improvements and $1.4 million for CBJ work, CBJ Finance Director Bob Bartholomew said.
Still, where exactly that money will be spent will be determined by the aforementioned public process, he said.
“The purpose of the fund is to help Juneau deal with the impact of tourism,” Bartholomew said,
In 2012 and 2013, the city pulled in $4.4 million and $4.7 million, respectively, in marine passenger fee proceeds, Bartholomew said.
The focus for the money collected is helping to “improve the safety and experience for the passengers and help the city pay for some of the impacts of tourism,” Bartholomew said.
Some of those impacts include increased emergency services during the summer months and keeping the water and docks clean and safe, he added.
The marine passenger fee program started in 1999 when Juneau voters passed Proposition 1, which assigned a $5 per passenger fee to cruise ship passengers. The intention was to help fund Juneau’s developments aimed primarily at improving cruise ship tourists’ experience in Alaska’s capital city.
“That can be capital improvements, or helping the government deal with having a million people in your streets,” Bartholomew said.