Ketchikan International Airport fees on the town side will double starting July 1st to $2 a day. And airport parking on Gravina Island will go from $3 to $4 a day.
The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly unanimously approved the recommended parking fee increase on Monday. Airport Manager Mike Carney told the assembly that the borough has struggled with parking for years.
“When we started the parking (fees), people were so upset that they had to pay for parking that the parking lot was empty for many years,” he said. “Now it’s full. All the time. Both sides. Today. People double-parked, tenants, double parked. Both sides. So, we need to do something about it.”
Carney said the fee increase will add about $60,000 a year to the airport’s revenue, but that’s not why increases are needed. He said airport parking is so cheap, people are using the lots to store their vehicles.
“’I don’t need a garage. I don’t need to ask Rodney to park my car at his house, because I can just pay $365 a year and leave it there all year long.’” He said. “It’s secure. Semi-secure. It’s got lights. Police patrol it. Good place to park.”
“Rodney” is Assembly Member Rodney Dial, who said nobody likes to increase parking fees. But, he said, the modest increase will help discourage people from using the lots as vehicle storage.
Assembly Member Judith McQuerry noted that current daily parking rates for the town-side lot are less than a bus ride.
“I’m tired of getting all of those Nixle notifications that the parking lot’s full,” she said. “I think this is needed and I appreciate the work of staff to give this a try.”
Nixle is an alert system used by local government to send notifications via text and email to residents who have signed up for the service.
Also Monday, the assembly introduced an ordinance to dedicate 100 percent of the borough’s tobacco tax to local education. It will come back for a public hearing and second vote on April 1.
Currently, 85 percent goes to schools and the remaining 15 percent was to go toward a community tobacco cessation program. The borough wasn’t able to find a program to meet its needs.
If the ordinance is adopted, revenue collected and held for a cessation program will shift into the borough’s education fund, along with future tobacco tax revenue.
This report has been edited to correct an error.