Borough requests increased statewide transportation funding
The Petersburg Borough approved a resolution urging Governor Sean Parnell and the Alaska legislature to increase transportation funding across the state.
The Alaska Municipal League, or AML, is urging municipalities across Alaska to request increases in transportation funding. AML is a statewide nonprofit organization representing 140 cities, boroughs and unified municipalities that aims to influence state and federal decision-making.
The AML drafted its own resolution that asks for a local match component for state funded transportation grants.
It urges municipalities to specify their unique transportation needs as they write letters or pass resolutions.
The Petersburg Borough’s resolution specifies the Alaska Marine Highway System as a necessary source for funding increases.
“…the continued expansion of the Alaska Marine Highway System to provide new and expanding routes combined with the increasing costs and decreasing revenues available to operate the System are resulting in reduced core service levels in Southeast Alaska,” the resolution states.
Ferry service has decreased by about half in the last five years.
David Kensinger with Chelan Produce uses the ferry service to sell goods but said with the decrease in ferry service over the last five years he’s had to reduce his sales.
“We used to sell all over Southeast,” Kensinger said. “It got so difficult getting anywhere on the ferry we’re now just selling here (Petersburg) and in Sitka.”
Kensinger cites rising costs and changes in resource allocation as some of the reasons for the decrease in service.
Based on ADOT data, the difference between vessel revenue and expenditures has increased 67 percent from FY 2001 through FY 2012.
In a 2012 report, ADOT Commissioner Pat Kemp cited an overall increase in service weeks—figures that aren’t reflected in Petersburg—and the highest unrestricted revenue in AMHS history—$53.8 million.
AMHS saw in 2012 the highest vessel expenditure, with some budget components left out, in its history—$151.5 million.