A major cruise line says Ketchikan should think twice about turning over its city docks to a private operator.
Holland America Group’s Charlie Ball sent a letter to the city council saying his company was “concerned about any proposal which might change the status quo by introducing an outside interest.”
Holland America Group is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation which has the largest number of cruise ships in Alaska.
In October, the city asked dock operators and cruise lines to submit proposals to redevelop the downtown cruise ship docks. In exchange for $50 million in upgrades to both the dock and uplands, a cruise line would get preferential rights to Ketchikan’s cruise docks.
But none of Carnival’s brands bid.
The city did get three proposals from port companies who would be free to levy docking fees above what they city already levies.
Ball says that when Norwegian Cruise Line begins diverting its ships to Ward Cove, Carnival’s fleet will represent nearly 70 percent of port calls to downtown.
The council is scheduled to hear from Ball at Thursday’s City Council meeting.
And that’s not the only port-related item on the agenda. The council is also set to consider a $40,000 contract with a Seattle-based financial advisor to help evaluate competing proposals to run the city’s cruise docks.
In other business, the council will decide whether to pay healthcare consulting firm ECG Management Consultants an additional $270,000 to negotiate a new lease for the publicly-owned hospital. That’s on top of the $300,00 the city has already paid Seattle-based ECG in consulting fees to negotiate with PeaceHealth, the Washington state-based operator of Ketchikan’s hospital. The lease expires in 2023, but PeaceHealth and the city say they’d like finish negotiations early next year.
And, finally, Ketchikan’s cab companies are asking to raise fares. Sourdough Cab and Ketchikan Yellow Taxi propose raising the base fare from $3.50 to $4.50 and the per-mile rate from $3 to $4. The companies say the city’s regulated rates haven’t moved since 2005. The city manager’s office notes that existing cab rates don’t reflect 15 years of inflation.
Ketchikan’s City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.