Ketchikan shoots down tour ship tax

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2000

KETCHIKAN - The Ketchikan City Council has voted down a proposal to levy a $5-per-person tax on cruise ship passengers visiting the city.

Only councilman Tom Coyne, who introduced the proposal, cast a vote in its favor at a meeting last week.

``The city needs revenue, and every time we need revenue we place it on the backs of the taxpayers,'' Coyne said. ``Would you rather raise the taxes from your neighbor or from some rich dude from Cucamonga who comes here to visit?''

In October, Juneau voters approved a similar head tax on cruise-line passengers. The following month, Princess Cruises announced four of its cruise ships will spend less time in Juneau and more time in Ketchikan.

Haines was also punished by the cruise industry after residents approved a 4 percent sales tax on shore tours sold to cruise ship passengers. Princess Cruises canceled its only visit to Haines for next season.

Ketchikan councilwoman Marty West said she didn't support the passenger fee because Ketchikan businesses stand to benefit if the ships stay in port longer.

In a memo to the council, Coyne wrote that it had a choice: a head tax or an eventual increase in property tax and an 8 percent sales tax.

Councilman Lew Williams III disagreed with Coyne's assessment.

``We haven't raised property tax because we have people coming off those boats and spending their money,'' he said.

Ketchikan had an estimated 541,000 cruise ship passengers last summer, up about 10,000 from the summer before, according to the town's visitors' bureau. Juneau had about 600,000 passengers.

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