Cruise ship passengers walk around in downtown Juneau in late May. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)

Cruise ship passengers walk around in downtown Juneau in late May. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)

Public suggestions for spending cruise ship passenger fees being accepted starting Monday

More than $21.6M available after record season, but proposals limited to cruise-related projects.

Proposals for local projects funded with per-passenger cruise ship fees are being accepted between Monday, Dec. 4. and Jan. 3, according to a notice published Friday by the City and Borough of Juneau.

A $5 per-passenger fee approved by local voters in 1999 is designated for “projects or operational services that provide services to cruise ships and passengers, and mitigate community impacts created by the cruise ship industry,” according to the notice. Passengers also pay a $3 port development fee and a $5 state commercial passenger vessel excise tax.

A record 1.66 million cruise ship passengers visited Juneau this year, which would result in about $21.6 million in available funds. An assessment of passenger fee infrastructure needs drafted earlier this year lists more then $218 million in possible projects between fiscal 2024 and 2028, ranging from shore power installations to the purchase of the Franklin and AJ docks.

There are limits on how the city can spend passenger fees due to a 2019 settlement in a lawsuit against CBJ by Cruise Lines International Association Alaska, which states funds can only be spent for things related to the cruise ships themselves, said Alexandra Pierce, the city’s tourism manager.

“We’re pretty limited on how we can spend the fees, so we have to take that into consideration,” she said. “We look at our infrastructure needs, we look at the projects that we really need to do, we look at the requests that fit into that. And sometimes we get great ideas that don’t really fit within our passenger fee program, but are just a good idea for the local government.”

Among the recommendations made by city officials during the past year were $10 million to cover about half the cost of expanding the downtown Seawalk, $1 million toward the proposed Capital Civic Center and $2 million for Marine Park improvements. Suggestions that didn’t fit the guidelines included requests for public art, Pierce said.

Pierce said in previous years “a handful” of ideas are offered by the public during the annual process, but ultimately dozens of items are received via various organizations such Travel Juneau, the Downtown Business Association and others.

A preliminary recommendation list of projects is then drafted by Pierce, followed by a 30-day public comment period. The list, along with recommendations by the city manager, next goes to the Juneau Assembly’s Finance Committee for review before it is considered by the full Assembly as part of the annual budget process.

Pierce said a multitude of city officials including herself, the finance director, engineering director and the city manager are involved in creating the draft priority list.

While many of the ideas are for broad-based projects, Pierce said some individual suggestions of a specific nature have also proven worthy.

“We needed some signage for the Elizabeth Peratrovich memorial because somebody on the dock asked me if it was a bust of Sarah Palin,” she said, referring to an item the Assembly funded after last year’s process. “We thought that was hilarious. And also we’re like ‘well, we really do need some signage.’”

Proposals can be submitted by email to alexandra.pierce@juneau.gov or by traditional mail to the City Manager’s Office, attention Alexandra Pierce, 155 Heritage Way, Juneau, AK, 99801.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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