Cruise traffic calling at a new dock at Ward Cove could mean a multimillion-dollar hit to Ketchikan’s city finances. That’s according to a report from the McDowell Group.
It should be noted that the report does not account for the pandemic’s impact on the cruise industry. The future of cruising is up in the air — though cruise lines have said they’re seeing lots of bookings for 2021, local officials in Ketchikan say they anticipate a steep dropoff in cruise passengers next summer.
But, that said, back to the report — Norwegian Cruise Line is a partner in the two-berth megaship dock seven miles north of Ketchikan. And analysts say moving ships like the Joy and Bliss outside of city limits will mean $4.3 million less in city revenue every year. That’s losses from head taxes, dockage fees and sales taxes as roughly 20% of Ketchikan’s passengers are projected to move to the new dock.
Analysts say the city could lose even more if other lines follow Norwegian’s lead.
The report was released earlier this month. On Thursday, representatives for the consulting firm will present the findings from the $43,000 study to the Ketchikan City Council.
It’s a relatively light week for the council, with only five items listed under “new business” on the agenda.
Among the handful of items is a request from the nonprofit that runs Ketchikan’s domestic violence shelter, Women in Safe Homes. WISH is asking the council to back its request for nearly $700,000 in federally-funded grants from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
According to a letter from WISH chief Agnes Moran, $400,000 of that would be split between two forms of rental assistance. A “rapid rehousing” program would provide move-in deposits and up to six months of rent for people currently staying in local shelters. Another part of the program would provide rental assistance for people in danger of losing their current housing.
The remaining $290,000 would go towards WISH’s renovation of the former juvenile jail it plans to repurpose as a shelter. Moran says that $290,000 “fully funds” the $1.4 million renovation — and could allow WISH to retain its current shelter for even more capacity.
Ketchikan’s City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. The meeting is broadcast on local cable channels and streamed at the city’s website. The full agenda is available online, and residents can weigh in at the beginning of the meeting.