Summary: During tonight’s meeting, use of Marine Passenger Fee money dominated the conversation.
It was ultimately decided $300,000 instead of $250,000 would go toward Large Berth Shore Power Preliminary Design & Cost Estimate rather than a feasibility study. The change in amount and name reflect a dedication toward expanding shore power in Juneau.
The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee agenda for May 15 is loaded with decisions expected on child care funding, other pending items as and the mill levy.
Next week, testimony will be expected from people connected to the Southeast Conference, mental health and substance abuse, Glory Hall, a land purchase for senior housing and a healing totem intended to be erected on Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies property.
Meeting is back in session, and Gladziszewski has motioned to move all requests for additional funding to the committee’s pending item list. There were no objections.
A seven-minute break has been called before the committee dives into non-child care requested budget increments.
It’s looking like child care will be discussed in depth during next week’s meeting.
There has been a motion to move three requests for increased funding related to child care to the city’s pending list. They are $89,900 for the HEARTS program, $60,000 for a review of child care and $150,000 for child care programs, according to the night’s meeting packet.
A few folks filed out after Marine Passenger Fee discussion, but there are still 19 people at City Hall for tonight’s meeting. Many are connected to Juneau School District. The next topic on tonight’s agenda is incremental funding for child care.
With the amended Marine Passenger Fee spending being forwarded to the Assembly, Finance Director Bob Bartholomew
is detailing the the state of city finances.
After a lot of discussion, $300,000 in Marine Passenger Fees will likely be going toward pursuing large berth shore power.
Gladziszewski proposed titling the shore power project, An Analysis of the Path Forward for Large Berth Shore Power.
Hale objected on the grounds the new title might be too vague.
The motion failed 3-6 with Mayor Beth Weldon, Gladziszewski and Assembly member Rob Edwardson voting in favor of the name.
The effort will be known as Large Berth Shore Power Preliminary Design & Cost Estimate.
Competing but very similar amendments from assembly members are still being discussed — both would signal the city is studying shore power in hopes of electrifying its docks. Discussions also indicate that an additional $50,000 of marine passenger fees would go toward the effort.
Assembly member Loren Jones, committee chair, called a 10-minute break to hammer out the language that will be used in a single amendment for the committee to consider.
Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski said regardless of whether the effort is called a feasibility study or design work, she is supportive of efforts to increase shore power options in Juneau.
“I’m supportive of shore power, the sooner the better,” she said. “Whatever you call it, I could care less as long as you figure out how you would do it.”
After an amendment to Hale’s amendment the study will no longer be called a feasibility study, and it will look at the implementation of large berth shore power.
“I don’t want to continue to delay dock electrification, but there are some real issues that have been identified,” Hale said.
She thought increasing the budgeted amount may strike a balance.
Assembly member Wade Bryson asked why a feasibility study would be needed when one was conducted in 2016 and said adding electrical options for ships at more docks makes sense for environmental and economic reasons.
“We just need to figure out how to do it,” Bryson said.
Assembly members Carole Triem and Michelle Bonnet Hale each have proposed amendments for Marine Passenger Fee usage related to shore power as it appears in the city manager’s proposed budget.
Both Hale and Triem would like to change the line item’s table to make it explicit a study will lead to expanding shore power in Juneau. Hale’s amendment would also increase the amount spent on the study from $250,000 to $300,000.
Both amendments are now being discussed.
Many letters and emails sent to city officials regarding Marine Passenger Fees focused on shore power, but not every communication did. Here are excerpts from other ideas included in the night’s meeting packet:
“I’m sure if someone proposed Cruise Ship taxes for education, the entire community would band together. Be bold and be the one.”
“CBJ should definitely prioritize money for a guardrail on the dock. It is so dangerous! and a huge liability!!!”
“I’d like to see a small portion of the passenger fees used to restore the dockside map of North America created by nails driven into the boardwalk…As a larger project, I would like to see a mural painted on the side of the library parking garage. I would prefer a local Alaska Native design, but another Wyland whale mural would be nice as well.”
Tonight the City and Borough of Juneau Finance Committee is expected to take action on use of Marine Passenger Fees.
There have been plenty of suggestions for how to spend the $5 per cruise ship passenger collected by the city, including a petition that attracted 800 signatures to direct money directly toward expanding shore power in Juneau.
Read Juneau Empire coverage of the Renewable Juneau-led effort here, and live updates from tonight’s meeting will follow.