Mat Su Ferry Draws Interest

 Despite televised reports that a sale could be imminent, the Matanuska Susitna Borough’s ferry MV Susitna remains tied to a dock in Ketchikan, while the Borough faces a tight deadline for repayment of a twelve million dollar debt to the Federal Transit Administration.

At  Tueaday night’s   Borough Assembly meeting, Borough Attorney Nicholas Spiropolous [ spir OPP o lous ] told the body that the FTA wants its money back by January 15. He said he’s written a reply to FTA.

“Our submittal to FTA in response to [their] demand letter is due January 15. The manager and finance director and port director have seen a draft and made comment on it. ”

 

The mid – January date represents an extension of an earlier, September, deadline.

But a European – based company, Intercity Rental Car Corporation, has given the Borough 20 thousand dollars to pay for a demonstration of the boat’s abilities. The Borough Assembly spent little time Tuesday in approving the acceptance and appropriation of the money to pay for the sea trials, passing the motion without comment.  

Intercity Rental, however, is not an American company, and selling the vessel to a foreign – owned company could pose a challenge. The ferry can be given away to a US non-profit, or sold to an American company, but the FTA could frown on selling a Navy – built ship outside the US.

According to its website, Intercity Rental is a fleet leasing company in Turkey, which has about a quarter share of the market. The company leases cars to corporate clients with 1 year to 3 year contracts, and provides comprehensive maintenance services.

 The Borough was given the ferry free of charge, but with grant restrictions attached. The Borough failed to initiate ferry passenger service across Knik Arm, so the FTA is asking for it’s grant money back.

The MV Susitna sea trials have already taken place.  Borough manager John Moosey says negotiations are ongoing.