SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Ask Governor to veto appropriation for proposed aquarium
By David Hanger


May 25, 2006

I urge every tourist-related business owner to e-mail or write the Governor's office to request his veto of this $2 million appropriation for the proposed south-end $43 million government-funded aquarium. This project proposes to use tourist dollars to finance its annual costs and is thereby going into direct and immediate competition with you for your available customer base. This project does not augment the number of available tourists, thus in your limited market of 800,000 or so annual tourists every dollar it takes is taken collectively from you. To pay for its annual projected salaries of $3 million requires two-thirds of the time 300,000 tourists are in town; to pay for its projected overhead requires two-thirds of the time of another 300,000 tourists while they are in town. That is three tourists out of four they want from you to support their operation.

I realize you are all better at business than that, and they will never steal that many of your customers. But every one they do take is money out of your pockets. Ask Governor Murkowski to veto this crass and selfish assault on your bank accounts.

David Hanger
Ketchikan, AK - USA


David G. Hanger, EA, MBA
P.O. Box 23197
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901

May 21, 2006

P.O. Box 110001
Juneau, Alaska 99811

Dear Governor Murkowski:

I am writing to urge you to veto this $2 million appropriation (with a projected $41 million to follow) for this proposed aquarium some ten miles south of Ketchikan. As currently presented this project is either dangerous or deceitful and, whichever the case, is not an appropriate use of government funds. The people who have put this project together have specifically stated that they intend the tourists to pay for $3 million in salaries and for the overhead to operate the aquarium. In order to pay for the salaries at a ticket price of $25 at least 37.5% of all of the tourists landing in Ketchikan must pass through the turnstiles of this aquarium. In order to pay for their overhead at a ticket price of $25 another 37.5% of all the tourists landing in Ketchikan will have to pass through the turnstiles of this aquarium. (At $25 the commission on the ticket would be $5, $10 for the bus ride, leaving $10 to pay for salaries.) In order to get the tourists to the aquarium and back downtown will consume about two-thirds of the time the tourists spend in town.

If these people are successful in attaining their goal of the tourists paying for $3 million in salaries and millions in overhead, they will have effectively destroyed the local tourist industry, the largest private sector operation remaining in this town. While it may be appropriate for the government to finance a project that augments this very large private sector industry, it is absolutely inappropriate for state government to finance a project the expressed intent of which is to divert from the tourist industry as much of that industry's current revenue as this aquarium needs to finance itself. A project that requires 300,000 tourists out of the 800,000 who land here just to pay for salaries is incredibly disproportionate in its proposed effect. Another 300,000 tourists for its overhead just reinforces the prior absurdity. To provide $43 million to anybody so they can go out and attempt to wipe out the tourist industry is simply wrong.

Obviously, the far greater probability because of the very stiff competition in the tourist industry is that this aquarium will never attract sufficient customers to cover its proposed salaries and overhead, so who is then responsible for picking up that tab? The Gateway Borough cannot afford $5 or $6 million a year in additional cost, thus apparently the state plans on covering that cost.

The crassness of this proposed project resides in the fact that it expects the existing private sector to support its annual costs while it uses government funds to pay for every other aspect of its operation. Every dollar that goes through its turnstiles is a dollar subtracted from the revenue stream of the private sector tourist industry, and were this project to attain its stated goals it will have destroyed that industry. Please veto this appropriation and reserve these funds for some more worthwhile purpose. It should never be government's business to assist anyone in an attempt to destroy an entire industry. This is bad business and bad politics.


David G. Hanger


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