Ketchikan’s City Council will meet behind closed doors at 6 p.m. Wednesday. It’s scheduled to start its final review of two proposals it received to take over management of Ketchikan’s city-owned cruise ship docks.
The two bids come from Ketchikan-based Survey Point Holdings and a partnership called Ketchikan Port Solutions. That’s a 50-50 partnership between U.K.-based cruise port operator Global Ports Holding and Anchorage-based ConRAC Solutions.
Each promises millions in financial packages. It’s not clear which would benefit the city more — one item the council will consider Wednesday is a financial analysis of the proposals conducted by Minneapolis-based financial services firm Piper Sandler Companies.
The City Council will also consider the option of shelving the two proposals and maintaining city management of the docks.
The future of the port is one of the top issues in this year’s local elections. Four seats on the council — that’s a majority — are up for election in October. Three incumbents and eight challengers are vying for those seats.
Nearly every challenger has come out publicly against the idea of turning over management of the docks to a private entity.
So far, incumbent City Council members haven’t tipped their hands — they say that discussing their preferred option publicly could jeopardize the fairness of the bidding process and open the city to lawsuits. But some on the council have said that one goal of the process is to free up funds currently tied to the port for other city projects.
The council’s deliberations will take place behind closed doors in what’s known as executive session — but decisions about whether to move forward with a particular proposal or abandon the process would be made in open session, City Manager Karl Amylon said in a brief phone interview Tuesday.
Ketchikan city officials have defended the decision to conduct port negotiations behind closed doors. The city’s attorney denied a KRBD public records request for the proposals earlier this year, saying in an email that publicizing the bids could jeopardize the city’s negotiating position.
If the council designates one bidder as its preferred choice, it could instruct city management to begin negotiating concrete terms. Amylon said that process would take weeks, if not months — meaning there wouldn’t be a final vote before a new City Council is seated following the October 6 local election.
The council meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Ted Ferry Civic Center. The meeting is also streamed online and broadcast on local cable channels.