Juneau decides how to spend cruise passenger head tax

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- The capital city plans to spend more than $3 million generated by its new cruise passenger head tax on projects ranging from design of a visitors center to trail maintenance to crossing guards for the downtown tourist district.

The Juneau Assembly approved an ordinance Monday night that lets the city manager appropriate the money for a list of likely projects that was roundly criticized by one industry representative.

''The final list doesn't seem to bear much relationship to improvement of ship (facilities) or arriving and departing passengers,'' said Jay Hogan, a representative of the North West CruiseShip Association. ''A note of caution is called for.''

Cruise lines have hinted they may mount a legal challenge to the tax approved by voters last year if city officials don't use the money to benefit the cruise industry.

The ordinance appropriated $2.6 million for capital projects and $559,400 for support to cruise ship tourism.

''The list has its pluses and minuses,'' Assemblywoman Frankie Pillifant said. ''But as a first try at making that sausage, it was a good attempt.''

Capital improvement projects include design of a visitor center near the downtown wharves; construction of a commercial loading facility at Auke Bay; a bus transit facility; downtown sidewalk, stairway and street reconstruction; and commercial trail planning.

The appropriation also pays for a $100,000 study of helicopter sightseeing noise, the salary for the city's tourism coordinator, the development of a long-range tourism plan and improved bus service beginning next year.

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