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City sends 6 to Miami cruise conference

Daily News Staff Writer

Six City of Ketchikan officials have been in Miami Beach, Florida, this week to attend the Seatrade Cruise Global conference, which is touted as an opportunity to network with industry leaders from around the world.

City Manager Karl Amylon addressed the trip in the 2019 KPU budget transmittal letter writing, "Given ongoing discussions between the city and industry regarding expansion of port facilities, City of Ketchikan representation at this event is considered highly important."

"We've have had a lot of discussion with various players and the cruise market last year and we are following up with scheduled meetings with various lines and other companies," Amylon told the Daily News last week.

He said those other companies are involved with the cruise ship industry both globally and specific to Southeast Alaska.

Those in attendance from the city in addition to Amylon are Ketchikan City Mayor Bob Sivertsen, Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon, Assistant City Manager Lacey Simpson, and Ketchikan City Council members Dick Coose and Mark Flora.

"This not something we do annually," said Amylon. "I have practically a new council, relative to who's gone to this event in the past. And it's a real opportunity to learn what's going on in the cruise industry globally, and it's an education effort."

"I know last year there were other Alaska communities down there as well as the state," said Amylon, "And in one case I know that the numbers were higher than the number of people that we're sending now."

The total cost to the city is about $25,000, with nearly $10,000 for hotels and $3,000 in per diem, according to city documents. The City Council approved funding for this trip back in December when they approved the 2019 budget.

This increased the Port and Harbor's travel/business account from last year by nearly 500%, from around $4,000 to above $25,000. However, the city's travel/training budget, which factors in the travel/business accounts, for this year is about $540,000, which is right on par with the average travel/training budget for the previous three budget years, according to information provided by City Finance Director Bob Newell.

The Ketchikan City Council has met in executive session seven times this year concerning port-related activities. Three of those executive sessions were to discuss how the results of a court case in Juneau late last year affects what projects they can use CPV funds on. They emerged from one of those meetings to approve $250,000 in reconfiguration of a parking lot near Berth 3.

The council has met four times in executive session concerning berth expansion and development — twice concerning an amendment to the Berth 4 lease, and twice about the direction of contract negotiations with Bermello, Ajamil & Partners Inc.  This has resulted in the council directing the city manager to enter into an $177,200 agreement with Bermello, Ajamil & Partners for professional services related to port reconfiguration and execution strategy. The goal is to be able to fit a neopanamax ship at berth 4 and reconfigure berths 1 and 2 to accommodate one panamax vessel and a panamax vessel at the same time, according to comments made by Amylon after an executive session.

The Seatrade Cruise Global Conference began Monday and ended Thursday. Four people are getting per diem for seven days, while two are getting per diem for six.

Amylon said, "We have a need to invest in our berths and that's going to be a subject of discussion, with those various parties."