Assembly Finance Committee wraps up budget work

Nine-hundred 30-thousand cruise ship passengers are expected to visit Juneau this summer, leaving behind an estimated $4.7 million in revenue that can be used for capital city projects and operations.

The Assembly Finance Committee has agreed to spend the money to mitigate the effects of Juneau’s cruise ship traffic. The first “port dues” fee was enacted in 1990, based on vessel tonnage, with revenue to be used for dock improvements.

Juneau voters in 1999 approved the Marine Passenger Fee at $5 per cruise ship passenger. It’s to be used to address impacts caused by the cruise ship industry.

The Finance Committee has adopted the city manager’s long list of recommended expenditures at both Juneau’s city owned and privately owned docks.

“This is not money coming out of my pocket your pocket or anybody else. It’s the people who are getting off of the ships that pay the fee. And they pay it whether they get off at a public dock or a private dock,” says Karen Crane, committee chairwoman.

In a memo to assembly members on the passenger fee, Mayor Bruce Botelho says the revenue collected has been essential in building and maintaining the infrastructure needed to support the cruise industry. Funds are also used for city operations affected by cruise ships, for example, Juneau police foot and bike patrols downtown.

Meanwhile, Juneau’s mill levy may stay the same next year. The Finance Committee has agreed to maintain the current level for both operational and debt.

“This year the operational mill levy is 9 point 2-6, the debt service is 1 point 2-9, so the total is 10 point 5-5,” says City Manager Kim Kiefer.

Operational mills provide the revenue for every day city and borough spending.

“The operational mill levy makes up the roaded service area, the fire service and then the area wide, so it covers everything,” she explains. “That 9-point 2-6 is what funds government.”

The debt mill levy funds the principal and interest on bonds issued by the CBJ for such projects as school renovation.

In tax terms, it means property owners will be taxed $1,055 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

The Finance committee-approved package of marine spending, the operating and capital budgets and mill levy now go to the Assembly for a final vote. All must be approved by June 15th.