The City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) has reached a settlement with the cruise industry, which brings to an end a nearly three-year legal battle over the proper use of head taxes and passenger fees. The agreement follows a U.S. District Court judge’s ruling last December that said such fees were legal under the U.S. Constitution’s Tonnage Clause, but that they may only be used in ways that directly benefit the ships. The CBJ collects two fees – a Marine Passenger Fee of $5 and a Port Development Fee of $3 – amounting to $8 per passenger.
Under the terms of the agreement, Juneau may continue to use the passenger fees for “the planning, design and construction necessary to improve private and public cruise ship docks.” In addition, the fees may be used to fund restrooms, signage, motorcoach staging areas, passenger queuing facilities, and other cruise-related infrastructure expenditures. The parties further agreed to meet annually to discuss the use of passenger fees for future projects and that the fees would not be increased from their current levels for a period of at least three years.
In a statement, CLIA Alaska said: “We are pleased to reach resolution with the CBJ and appreciate the considerable efforts by the Mayor, Assembly and City Manager toward what is a very positive outcome. The agreement achieves our goal of providing certainty and predictability of how passenger fees will be utilized going forward, while still supporting services to our guests and the local community. Working together allows for continued positive economic benefits to Juneau in a manner that sustains the quality of life for residents and provides a great experience in a world-class destination.”