Cruise lines pay Juneau head tax quietly

Posted: Sunday, October 15, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- Cruise lines paid Juneau's $5 head tax on cruise passengers with no real argument this year, despite early complaints about constitutionality and worries about lawsuits.

After voters imposed the tax a year ago, one Juneau Assembly member predicted the lines would sue and the city would 'never see a penny.''

But more than $3 million is expected to be collected from this year's season, said Craig Duncan, the city's finance manager.

''We're past the paying,'' said Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman Lynn Martenstein. ''We lost and now we're moving forward.''

The city collected more than $1 million in May and June, the last two months of the past fiscal year. Cruise lines have been billed $2.1 million for the rest of the season.

Although not all of that money has made it to city coffers yet, none of the large cruise lines have been delinquent, Duncan said. he said. The companies have 60 days after their port visit to pay.

Duncan said a couple of the smaller ships are less than $5,000 in arrears.

Princess Cruises spokesman Kirby Day said his company is less concerned with paying than with where the money is going. Cruise lines want the money spent on things that benefit their ships and passengers.

''We're still watching closely how the money is spent,'' Day said.

To monitor where the money goes, the North West CruiseShip Association hired a former state budget director to keep tabs on the assembly's budget deliberations.

''We'd still like expenditures close to the harbor,'' said Lana Johnson, a spokeswoman for the group.

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