City divies up funds from ship passenger fees

Half the money to go to city operations

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2000

The city will spend more than $3 million of cruise ship passenger fee proceeds on projects ranging from design of a visitors center to hiking trail upkeep to hiring crossing guards for tourist safety.

The Juneau Assembly approved an ordinance at its Monday night meeting that lets the city manager appropriate the money for his list of likely projects -- a list reviewed by a citizens' committee, amended last night by the assembly, and roundly criticized by one industry representative.

``The final list doesn't seem to bear much relationship to improvement of ship (facilities) or arriving and departing passengers,'' said Jay Hogan on Monday night. Hogan described himself as a ``representative on the budgetary side of the North West CruiseShip Association,'' a trade group for cruise lines serving Alaska.

Half of the money from the passenger fee is being devoted to city and borough operations, Hogan told the assembly. ``A note of caution is called for.''

The ordinance appropriated $2.6 million for capital projects and $559,400 for support to cruise ship tourism.

Capital improvement projects include design of a $650,000 visitor center near the downtown wharves; construction of a $500,000 Auke Bay commercial loading facility; a bus transit facility; downtown sidewalk, stairway and street reconstruction; and commercial trail planning.

The appropriation also reimburses the city for a $100,000 flightseeing noise study that begins Thursday; pays the salary for the city's tourism coordinator; funds the development of a long-range tourism plan; and, beginning next May, initiates seasonal, 30-minute bus service.

Princess Tours spokesman Kirby Day said he could not endorse the passenger fee, but added he thought the assembly made ``a good effort.'' More money for enforcing downtown loading zones and traffic regulations would have been nice, he said.

In testimony before the assembly, Day suggested efforts be directed toward more efficient timing of deliveries to downtown stores; earlier trash collection; construction of a traffic roundabout near the library to ease congestion; and the use of crossing guards and stanchions for pedestrian control.

Two assembly members successfully moved to amend the measure. Ken Koelsch asked that $50,000 be added to the appropriation for design of a downtown roundabout -- to be paid for by a $50,000 reduction in funding for the visitor center. Koelsch also added $250,000 for a land acquisition fund, with an emphasis on open space, he said. That fund cost the visitor center another $100,000, and the Auke Bay commercial loading facility $150,000.

Member Jim Powell called for inclusion of tourism ``ambassadors,'' high school and college interns, in the ordinance.

``The list has its pluses and minuses,'' said member Frankie Pillifant. ``But as a first try at making that sausage, it was a good attempt.''

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