Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Ketchikan turns down cruise ship head tax

KETCHIKAN - Residents of Ketchikan have voted down a $5 head tax on visiting cruise ship passengers.

According to unofficial results, 64 percent of the city's voters cast a "no" ballot Tuesday, while 36 percent voted in favor a passenger fee.

With more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers expected to visit Ketchikan this summer, the fee would have raised about $3 million.

Up to half the money would have gone toward vocational education. The rest would have been used for improvements to visitor-related industry infrastructure.

Opponents of the fee questioned whether the cash could be used to help fund vocational education. The group also feared that cruise lines would cut port time or bypass Ketchikan altogether.

Several cruise line officials had said they would have to look at other options if the Ketchikan head tax was imposed. That would include making port calls at Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

Voter turnout was low, running about 32 percent of the city's registered voters.

Some observers blamed some of that on an initiative petition circulating around the state that would impose a $75 fee on cruise ship passengers visiting Alaska.

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