Water rate hike at Juneau cruise docks gets OK’d

The board of directors for Docks and Harbors approved an increase in the tariff charged for water at city-owned cruise docks in downtown Juneau at its Thursday evening meeting, an effort to help the agency cover operational costs.

The water rate increase, if approved by the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, would raise the tariff per 1,000 gallons from $3.35 to $4.67.

“The last time we raised the rates was 2005, and we sell about 27 million gallons of water to the cruise ships any given year,” said Port Director Carl Uchytil.

Penciling that out, that means Docks and Harbors could take in an additional $35,640 due to the rate increase.

Board member Tom Donek said it costs money for Docks and Harbors to supply ships at the cruise docks.

“What happens is we buy water from the city and resell it to the cruise ships, and basically there is, you know, labor and facilities involved in that,” Donek explained. “So what we’re trying to do is just recover our costs.”

The board last approved rate increases in December 2004, which the Assembly agreed to at its final meeting of that year.

On Thursday evening, there was no public participation on the water rate increase. There will be another opportunity for comment when the Assembly takes the issue up for public hearing.

The board also voted to nix a speed zone on Gastineau Channel just outside Douglas Harbor.

“We think, based on the harbormaster’s observations, that the speed zone across from Douglas Harbor can be removed or relaxed,” said Uchytil. “The floating breakwater really doesn’t merit having a speed limit outside Douglas Harbor.”

Donek agreed.

“The speed zone was put in place several years ago to protect the boats in Douglas Harbor, and since the breakwater has been put in place, there’s really … no need for it anymore,” Donek said. “And it was a very hard thing to enforce. So the board just decided that it’s one of those things that’s no longer needed.”

The speed zone, one of three in the waters of the channel separating Douglas Island from downtown Juneau, presently limits boats and other vehicles to five nautical miles per hour.

One other item, an amendment to the contract for planned Taku Dock modifications, was approved by the board. If the Assembly approves it, that amendment would provide PND Engineers with $42,249 more for design work.

Proposals for the Taku Dock were changed earlier this year in response to concerns that planned new cruise ship berths could impair fishing boats’ access to the dock.

The board also tabled action on a $500,000 appropriation from the Harbor Fund to the long-awaited Aurora Harbor rebuild. Donek said the proposal would be discussed at another meeting.

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