By Leigh Armstrong
Mayor Andrew Cremata has proposed that Skagway look into collecting a cruise ship passenger fee in the coming years, in addition to the $5 per passenger the municipality receives as its share of the state’s commercial passenger vessel tax.
The municipality this year is budgeted to receive $4.7 million from the state tax, with just under 1 million passengers aboard ships calling in town.
Implementing a new Skagway tax on cruise ship passengers would provide funds to help build up areas of town used by tourists during the season and get worn down.
“We have to build up the infrastructure for the amount of cruise ship passengers we have, not to mention increases in cruise ship passengers,” Cremata said at the Aug. 1 borough assembly meeting in proposing the municipality look into the new tax. He did not request any assembly action.
Other Southeast communities collect their own per-passenger tax, in addition to sharing in the state tax receipts. Juneau collects $8 per passenger.
The cruise industry took Juneau to court over the use of the tax proceeds, with the two sides settling their dispute after a judge ruled the money had to be spent on services directly related to the ship.
Cremata expects the conversation to continue during the off-season months, including how the municipality could best put the new revenue to use.
“This is long overdue for Skagway,” the mayor said.