Responding to John Mielke's diatribe, in an April 11 letter to the editor, against a proposed state cruise ship passenger fee, John is partially correct that the state has ambiguous priorities and obligations to ports and harbors throughout the state. Many ports and small boat harbors have already been transferred to local control. Recent federal law further narrows local uses for cruise ship passenger fees to projects that promote safety and efficiency in areas directly adjacent to cruise ship docking areas.
However, where we should strongly agree is that passenger fees collected by local communities thus far have been appropriately used to upgrade Alaska's 100-year-old harbors, for instance in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, the three top cruise ship ports in Alaska.
Passenger fees are a welcome revenue source, especially to improve local ports and small boat harbors that welcome the majority of nearly one million cruise ship passengers per year. Agreement on this point will focus the issue of appropriate passenger fees rather than dismiss them as surplus or unnecessary state funding.