Harbor Bond Approved With 7% Voter Turnout
June 27, 2012
Yesterday's approval of Proposition 1 by the voters authorizes the City of Ketchikan to issue bonds for a maximum of $5 Million over a period of several years. The authority to issue bonds is required in order for the City of Ketchikan to apply for and receive grant funding from several sources, especially the State’s 50/50 Harbor Grant program. The City’s goal is to issue only the minimum necessary bonds needed for any project, planning to never reach the $5 Million level. In the Proposition proposal, the City stated that this bond measure is not intended to be a "blank check".
The State of Alaska was the former owner of Ketchikan’s harbors which were constructed in the 60’s and 70’s. The State passed ownership of the harbors to the City of Ketchikan over the past 6 to 8 years. By the time the City received ownership from the State, the harbors were all at end-of-life and in need of upgrading and maintenance to retain their usefulness.
The State of Alaska did provide the City of Ketchikan with $7.8 Million to make the most necessary repairs and improvements and the Ports & Harbor department was able to use those funds to make over $11 Million in improvements when matched with several grants.
However, about $10 Million in improvements and maintenance projects were identified by Ports and Harbors that were still in need to be performed to keep the harbors safe and in good repair.
Although these bonds will be general obligation bonds, the City intends to repay the bonds from harbor user fees and raw fish tax revenues, not property taxes. This will impact only those who use the moorage facilities, including year-round pleasure and commercial vessels as well as transient moorage users. There will be no impact on launch ramp user fees. The increase in moorage fees would be 7% for each $1 Million raised. That would mean that whenever the first $1Million in bonds is issued several years from now the moorage fee for a 24 foot vessel would increase from $46 per month to $49.22 per month.
According to fact sheets provided by the City of Ketchikan, Ports and Harbors, the first bond will probably not be issued for a several years. Bonds will only be issued for amounts needed for a specific project, once grant funding has been secured. The plan is to keep the actual bond dollar amounts well below the stated $5 Million. The goal is to keep the total bonds issued in the $2-$3 Million range.
The City of Ketchikan now owns all the harbors in the City and the Ketchikan Borough with the exception of Mountain Point, which the City operates but doesn't own. The most recently completed projects were at Knudson Cove, Bar Harbor North and South, Thomas Basin and Hole-in-the-Wall.
The City of Ketchikan, Ports and Harbors, intends to repair and replace Bar Harbor floats 1N and 9, repair the failing grid wall at Bar Harbor South and replace the single launch ramp with a double launch ramp. As well as install wider, longer ADA gangways/ramps at Thomas Basin, Bar Harbor South and North, and replace all facilities including access ramps and floats at Hole-in-the-Wall.
The public will have multiple opportunities for input regarding all upcoming harbors' projects. Every project will come before the Ketchikan City Council for approval; there will be a general comment period as well as special meetings regarding "most" projects.
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