About 10 minutes and some pen strokes formally brought three years of litigation to an end.
The City and Borough of Juneau and Cruise Lines International Association of Alaska officially reached an agreement Friday that ends a lawsuit against the city over use of passenger fees. Relief on both sides was palpable during the meeting.
“It’s been a long road, there’s thousands of pages of documents on the website,” said Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski. “We’ve been working on it a long time. The negotiating team’s been working on it a long time, the lawyers have been working on it, the Assembly’s been working on it, and in general the basic, fundamental reason the city has been continuing to work is we value local control of our water front, and we wanted to be responsible stewards of the funds collected to benefit passengers and the operation of the vessels. We’re really pleased this has come to a resolution.”
CLIA filed a lawsuit in the spring of 2016 alleging CBJ was unconstitutionally collecting and spending fees collected from cruise ship passengers, which CBJ denied.
Under the terms of the agreement and per resolutions and ordinances adopted Friday, both the CBJ and CLIA had their legal fees — $1.95 million total — reimbursed from the city’s general fund. Of the total $1.5 will go to CLIA and $450,000 to CBJ.
The general fund will then be reimbursed for that sum by passenger fee money in fiscal year 2020.
City Manager Rorie Watt said during the upcoming tourist season the city would expect to collect nearly $17 million — $13 per about 1.3 million passengers — in passenger fees.
Additionally, under the terms of the agreement, CBJ will use passenger fees to continue providing services and infrastructure to cruise ships including: restrooms, signage, motor coach staging, crossing guards, fire and emergency medical service and police patrols.
There would be no change from historical practice in the port area.
CBJ will be able to use passenger fees to fund up to 75 percent — $9.3 million — of the $12.4 million Statter Harbor project. The remainder of the project costs will come from local sources.
CLIA Alaska President John Binkley said during the meeting he was happy with the way things turned out.
“We’re certainly pleased with the settlement,” Binkley said. “It’s really an opportunity for all of us in the cruise industry and the community of Juneau to move forward. We realize that when we bring visitors here we are guests in your community, and it’s our primary responsibility to act as guests and work with you to make certain that we sustain and maintain that excellent quality of life for people in Juneau.”
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.