By Rodney Dial
January 29, 2008
You may remember that in the days leading up to the Consolidation
vote (November 06) the Save Ketchikan Group took on the Chamber
of Commerce and local government to warn that if we consolidated
our island would lose millions if the Commercial Passenger Vessel
Tax ($50 per head, cruise ship tax) passed.
As you know, the tax was passed by the voters of Alaska and became
effective December 17th, 2006. This tax distributes $5 per visitor,
to each community that is the first 5 ports of call for the cruise
The communities that receive the funds have the option of maintaining
their existing tax, or receiving the $5 per head fee.
For the city of Ketchikan it made more sense to maintain the
existing tax of $7 fee per person. If we had consolidated it
would have ended there. However, per AS 43.52.200 If the port
of call is a city located within a borough not otherwise unified
with the borough, the commissioner shall, subject to appropriation
by the legislature, distribute $2.50 per passenger to the city
and $2.50 to the borough.
What this means is that because we did not consolidate, the city
can continue to maintain their tax of $7, and the borough (which
has no cruise ship tax) will receive $2.50 per passenger. With
close to 1 million cruise ship visitors per year, this amounts
to tens of millions of NEW REVENUE for the borough. Since we
all live in a borough regardless of where you live on the island,
we all will benefit. It really doesn't matter if we support
the $50 head tax or not, it became law and had we consolidated
the funds would have simply gone to another community or the
On 1/25/08 the State Department of Revenue testified before the
Senate finance Committee in Juneau on the affect of the passenger
vessel tax and specifically mentioned that the Ketchikan Gateway
Borough will receive a share of the $50 tax because we did not
UNIFY (consolidate) with the city. The Deputy Director of the
State Tax division went on to say that these funds can be used
to repair roads, fix sidewalks, and to support infrastructure.
They even commented how the funds can be used to build an electrical
distribution system to allow the cruise ships to plug in to
the Ketchikan power grid, which will cut cruise ship emissions
and generate revenue for KPU.
What disturbs me the most is that powers that supported consolidation
have not had the courage to stand up and tell the public that
they were wrong. The Ketchikan Daily News which was an advocate
of consolidation seems surprisingly quiet as well.
The voters got this one right (again).
About: "Lifelong Alaskan"
Received January 29, 2008 -
Published January 29, 2008
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