CLIA Sues Juneau, Alaska Over Cruise Fees Used for Other Purposes
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
As the 2016 cruise season gets underway, ABC News via Associated Press is reporting that Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its Alaskan affiliate have filed a lawsuit against the capital city of Juneau for alleged misuse of levied cruise passenger fees.
CLIA represents companies such as Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line that all operate in Alaska seasonally during the summer and collect head tax fees on behalf of the local port. Juneau specifically receives a $5 entry fee and a $3 port development fee, both per passenger. It is estimated that the city has gotten $35 million from the fees over the last four years as a result.
The lawsuit concerns the money’s application and cites improper use for a planned $10 million life-size whale statue and waterfront improvements located over a mile from the cruise dock. Other monetary issues include $22 million allocated to government operating expenses, $2 million set aside for city bus services and $447,000 used to upgrade a private dock not accessible to cruise visitors.
Alaska's association president John Binkley admits most port charges are not disputed because they are usually used for cruise-related projects. He is quoted as saying, “the Constitution allows you to charge a fee, but it has to be used in conjunction with that vessel. You can't take the money and use it for city operations.” He understands this issue to be unique to Juneau.
Juneau is a beautiful port for Alaskan cruise visitors, but it’s actually not the first time a statue has caused the city heartburn. An amusing local story goes that two statues were commissioned for federal buildings: a salmon one for Juneau and a pelican one for Florida. A supposed shipping mixup caused the two to be switched during delivery, so now Juneau has the pelican one on display to this day.
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