THE PORT IMPROVEMENT BOND VOTE, APRIL 11TH.
By Chris Parks
March 06, 2006
In 2004 we had 848,969 cruise ship visitors;
In 2005 we had 921,429 cruise ship visitors;
In 2006 we are projected to have aproximately 821,000 visitors, or a decrease of aproximately 100,000 cruise ship visitors. This is mainly due to the fact that our port facilities are outdated and cannot accomodate the newer class ships, thus some ships are choosing to bypass Ketchikan when there isn't room at the docks.
What does this mean for the Economy of Ketchikan? It means lost revenues for the businesses in our town; it means lost Tax Revenues for the City and Borough; and most importantly, it means lost JOBS for the people who work and live here.
This loss will continue for the 2007 season, as the scheduling for that season is under progress right now.
According to the McDowell Group Study for 2004, cruise ship passengers spent $111.3 Million in Ketchikan; Crew members spent $5.7 Million; and the Cruise Lines spent $21.2 Million; That's a total of $138.2 Million put into our local economy in 2004. we can only assume that the numbers were higher for 2005, with the higher visitor count.
But the real impact on our economy is the trickle down effect. People working in the visitor industry, buy groceries, clothing, patronize restaurants and bars, buy cars, use Taxis, buy homes, employee contractors, rent apartments,and more, and also pay taxes to our local municipalities throughout the year.
Businesses in the visitor industry, employee many people, alot of whom are local kids working their way through college or trade school; they employ local contractors, buy many of their supplies from other local businesses, rent aprtments and buy houses for their employees to live in, and, most important, pay property taxes and huge rents 12 months a year, most of which goes to local property owners, who in turn employee people that spend that money locally 12 months a year. The money initially spent by people who earned it directly from the tourist industry, then gets spent and respent throughout the local economy, over and over again, thus making it by far the largest single private industry in our economy.
This economic activity also keeps our property tax millage rate low; in 1986, the city of Ketchikan had a millage rate of 9.5; in 2005 our millage rate was 6.4. If we continue to see a decline in the tourist industry, it is possible that we will see reduced services, increased sales and property taxes, or a combination of both. Property values have held steady and climbed in value, even after the demise of the pulp mill, mainly due to the economic activity of the cruise industry.
What is the best part of voting yes for the Port Improvement Bond? It cost us nothing! The tourists pay for it through port docking and passenger fees, that make up the port enterprise fund. In fact, the city collected $7.1 Million in 2005 alone from the cruise lines and passengers, and by federal law this money must be spent for the benefit of the people being taxed, AND to mitigate any impacts from the visitor industry.
This Port Improvement project does just that, by providing proper pedestrian access, off street bus staging, and better access and port times so people don't have to 'mob' the town, because they're in a hurry.
Most importantly, this Port renovation plan, gives us a chance to properly capitalize on the CURRENT TRAFFIC we already have. Juneau gets $186 per passenger; Ketchikan gets $138 per passenger; we can improve our economy by properly accomodating the cruise ship traffic we already have.
I urge all voters to continue getting the information on the April 11th Bond Vote, as this is probably the most important economic development project in our community in the last 20 years.
Please VOYE YES! in April 11th.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.