Juneau’s legal bills mount from cruise ship lawsuit

The Emerald Princess shown moored Wednesday, July 27, 2017, at the S. Franklin Street Dock in Juneau. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

The Juneau Assembly approved another quarter million dollars to defend itself in a federal lawsuit brought by the cruise ship industry.

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The appropriation brings the total amount set aside for the lawsuit to $847,000 since April 2016. At stake is the city’s $8-per-cruise ship passenger fees that raise millions for the city’s tourism-related infrastructure.

The lawsuit is now pending in U.S. District Court. It challenges how the city has spent passenger fee money on projects and services not directly tied to vessels in port. The suit further challenges the fee’s legality under the U.S. Constitution and with it, the city’s right to collect the fees at all.

Nobody from the Assembly spoke at Monday’s hearing before unanimously approving the additional funding from sales tax revenue.

Juneau’s elected officials are briefed on the lawsuit during closed-door sessions.