Dedicated to retaining local control of Ketchikan's port facilities
OURPORT is a group of Ketchikan residents who believe the City of Ketchikan should retain control and management of cruise ship berths 1-4. OURPORT opposes any concession agreement regarding Berths 1-3 which are owned by the citizens of Ketchikan and opposes any preferential berthing agreement with any cruise line. Berths 1-4 should continue to be managed with the goal of distributing cruise ship passenger counts evenly among them on an annual basis and ensuring all businesses continue to enjoy access to cruise ship passengers on public lands and facilities on an equal basis regulated only by public law. Over 560 people have signed our mission statement. See who has signed.
The Chamber of Commerce has passed a resolution opposing the port concession and urges the City Council to adopt the "no action" alternative. OURPORT is circulating a new petition for businesses which states our belief that neither this nor "any other City Council has the right or legal authority to hand over our port to any private enterprise at any price". See the Chamber resolution and our new Petition here. Feel free to print out a blank Petition and get a few signatures yourself if you wish. We can use all the help we can get.
Update 2/20/20 Two of the bidders have begun lobbying local merchants and tour operators to support their proposals. The Turkish firm Global Ports Holding ( which would like us to think they are a company based out of Anchorage and the UK) held a series of sessions with small groups at Cape Fox Lodge on February 4th. The invitations were made on behalf of Global Ports by Ketchikan firm Welsh Whiteley Architects. Global Ports is in town again today to hold a second "meet and greet" event at the Creek Street Cabaret after the first one which was held at the Cabaret last night. RCI (which submitted a joint proposal with SSA Marine) met with the KVB and Chamber of Commerce last week.
Read Important Documents
Updated Request for Proposals with draft Lease Agreement $35 Million Uplands Projects Bid Negotiation Schedule Proposed lease and "operational" area including Berth 4 $266,000 Miami Consultant Contract Interesting Report Re: Trip on Norwegian Joy City Answers to RFP Proponent's Questions (1/13) City "Response to OURPORT"
UPDATE 2/17/20 After another long executive session with the Council, Mayor Sivertson said at the end of the meeting that the Council still had a lot of questions and had given Manager Amylon direction to do something. It is not known what that direction was because it was given behind closed doors. Nothing more was disclosed about the bids themselves.
UPDATE 1/29/20 After 2 hour executive session Council tight lipped, no more bid info to be released to public, will mull proposals till 2/17, Mayor says many questions remain but no direction given to staff. Believe it or not.
After decades of managing our cruise ship docks for public benefit, the City of Ketchikan now plans to lease the docks to a private company. The private company would operate and take control of the docks, including the ground transportation and small boat loading areas, for up to 30 years or more. This would include making ship berth reservations, providing private security services, longshoring, and regulating access to passengers by other businesses. Sealed proposals from three companies were submitted to the City on January 21, 2020. The City has identified those companies as Survey Point Holdings which is based in Ketchikan, Alaska, SSA Marine, a stevedoring company which is based in Seattle, Washington and Global Ports Holding which is based in Istanbul, Turkey. As of January 26, 2020 the City had provided no other information about the bidders. This in spite of the City's promise in its "Response to OURPORT" that "[o]nce proposals are received, the City will disclose [not just] the identities of the proponents, [but] basic information on the proponent firms, as well the selected agreement approach (concession or preferential berthing)".
The City Council will hold a special meeting on January 28th to see the bids for the first time. This will not happen in a open public meeting but in an executive session behind closed doors. The City Manager has already opened the bids and will present the Council with a "matrix" of the bid details at that meeting. Originally, the City's plan had been to form a "screening committee" to review and "short list" the bids. It was to be composed of the Mayor, only two Council members chosen by the Mayor, the City Manager and five staff members. Now, the screening committee will include all seven members of the City Council as it should. This is due to the efforts of OURPORT. Even after the meeting on January 28th the City does not intend to disclose the amounts of the bids until it has concluded negotiations with one or more of the bidders. However, another positive change in the City's plans due to OURPORT is this: Originally, the City did not intend to disclose any bid details until after it had issued a notice of intent to award a contract; now, the City plans to require one or more of the bidders to "give a public presentation so that the community will have the opportunity to better understand the approach and vision for the Port as conceived by the RFP proponents". The "public presentation" phase of the process is new. No public presentation was required or mentioned anywhere in the City's Request for Proposals ("RFP") or the City's "Post-RFP Selection, Authorization and Execution" schedule. The first time a public presentation appeared in the process was in the City's Response to OURPORT which was posted on the City's website on December 20, 2019. Another recent and positive development is that local journalists have begun to expect more transparency from the City. See, for example, the editorial in the Ketchikan Daily News on January 25, 2020 and the January 24 KRBD story which says "KRBD filed a records request for copies of the proposals Tuesday. By Friday, no additional information had been released." https://www.krbd.org/2020/01/24/council-to-review-port-proposals-tuesday-details-remain-under-wraps/ We expect that the opening bids could amount to many tens of millions of dollars; nevertheless, we do not believe the City's reasons for going down this path are good enough to justify giving monopoly control of the docks to one company for 30 years. In the long run, we expect this arrangement will cost the City of Ketchikan much more than it gains. It risks shifting the employment of hundreds of Ketchikan residents to non-residents. It also creates a scenario where a single company would have great and undue influence over how our town and local businesses are marketed to the ships and our visitors. We do not expect smaller, locally owned or independent businesses, start ups or entrepreneurs to benefit from this arrangement. Instead it will become more difficult and expensive for small businesses to obtain access to their customers, to compete against larger businesses and all businesses will have to pay more for advertising, commissions and permits with the extra profits going solely to one company.
The City continues to pursue this process notwithstanding the opposition of many local businesses and their employees and over 550 citizens who have signed OURPORT's mission statement. Instead, it has almost totally relied on the ideas of one Miami consultant and the City Manager. In 2004 it was a Miami consultant who proposed that the "T-Pier" should be built perpendicular to Tongass Narrows extending more than half way to Pennock Island. So far, most of the City Council's real deliberations have been conducted in private, executive sessions, out of public view and after which the members of the Council come out and vote as a bloc with little debate. When negotiations commence we still expect they will be conducted by a small group consisting of the City Manager, his staff, a Juneau attorney (and perhaps the Mayor) and with little opportunity for informed comment from local business or members of the general public along the way.
As this process continues to unfold, if the City cannot be convinced to abandon it altogether, we believe the City should be more open with its citizens, make all the bid information and the City's counterproposals available to the public in real time and involve all Councilmembers in the negotiations at every step.
A much better approach would be to acknowledge that turning over the docks to a middleman who would monopolize the industry for two generations is simply a bad idea. At the same time, the City should engage in a continuing dialogue directly with the cruise lines to address and meet their common goals and those of our community at large. In addition, the City should be more candid with the community about the fiscal challenges it is facing and give the people more options to decide for themselves what should be done to solve them.
What you can do:
- Stay Informed
- Attend the Chamber of Commerce After Hours event on December 17th at 5:30 PM in the Sunny Point Conference Room at the Landing featuring Speaker Mike Tibbles, Vice-President for Government & Community Affairs, CLIA Alaska (Cruise Line Industry Association Alaska) See Event Advertisement
- Contact your City Councilmembers
- Write a Letter to the Editor
- Tell your Friends, Employees and Business Partners
The City is willing to give up control of our docks in exchange for this wish list of projects totaling $35 million. Some of these are fine projects and two or three of them are necessary but none of them are important enough to give up our docks for 30 years.
"Tourism is now a major economic driver of the local economy in Ketchikan. The tourism industry creates jobs and strengthens the local tax base, which results in a more secure community and lower taxes for everyone. The evidence of this is clear. In 2018, the average monthly employment in the community of Ketchikan was 7,044, with employment peaking at 7,980 in July and hitting the bottom at 6,544 in February. Sales tax revenues are projected to reach a record $12.9 million in 2019. About 70 percent of this revenue is collected between April and September. An inhouse analysis prepared by the City Finance Department using limited information provided by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough estimated that about 35% of the City sales tax revenues are either directly or indirectly derived from tourism. Assessed values have also appreciated. Since 2009, assessed values have increased from $745.4 million to $937.7 million, or 25.8%. While we cannot determine how much of this is due to growth in the tourism industry there is mostly likely a strong correlation between the success of the industry and rising assessed values." November 7, 2019 Budget letter from Ketchikan City Manager Karl Amylon and Finance Director Newell to Ketchikan City Mayor Bob Sivertson and members of the City Council, p. B-4
As of December 12, 2019 the City of Ketchikan estimates that in 2019 it will receive $13,022,782 in direct revenues from the port and State cruise ship passenger head tax funds and will spend $8,169,352 to operate the port, including bond debt service and Berth IV lease payments, resulting in a surplus of $4,853,430.* On top of that, it will also receive an estimated $4,522,175 in sales tax revenues derived from the tourism industry (at 35%). "The Port Fund is used to account for the resources required to operate and maintain the Port of Ketchikan. It relies solely on user fees to support its operations and provide for capital improvements." . . . "A surplus of $3.28 million has been programmed for the Port Fund for 2020. Continued growth in the tourism industry has been resulted [sic] in record revenue for the Port." . . . "The Port Fund is projected to have reserves totaling $14.37 million on hand by the end of 2020." November 7, 2019 Budget letter, pp B-30, 31
* This does not include capital grants or expenditures for e.g., pinnacle removal, design and consulting fees.