Ketchikan official wants head tax before voters

Posted: Friday, February 04, 2000

KETCHIKAN - Last month he failed to persuade his colleagues on the Ketchikan City Council to enact a landing tax on cruise ship passengers. Now Tom Coyne wants to put the matter to a popular vote.

Coyne is adamant about a $5 charge for each cruise ship passenger that stops in Ketchikan. His proposed tax has once again made its way onto the Ketchikan City Council agenda for council members to consider - this time calling for a vote of the people.

No action has been taken on his plan.

Coyne cast the lone yes vote in January, when the council rejected the tourist charge. Now Coyne is asking his colleagues to consider an October election on the issue.

In what became Coyne's one-man rallying cry, he asked the council several times at last month's meeting whether they would rather ``tax their neighbor or some rich dude from Cucamonga.'' A similar statement is in Coyne's memo to the city council concerning the proposed election.

Last October, Juneau voters approved a $5 head tax on cruise line passengers. Since then, Princess Cruises has announced several of its cruise ships will leave Juneau earlier than the previous summer in order to spend more time in Ketchikan.

After the council rejected Coyne's passenger charge last month, the North West CruiseShip Association issued a news release stating: ``In rejecting the head tax on cruise passengers, the city of Ketchikan sends a strong signal to the travel industry confirming its warm hospitality to visitors.''

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