Rashah McChesney

Cruise lines sue Juneau over passenger fee spending

JUNEAU — A life-sized whale statue has landed Juneau in hot water as a cruise ship association alleges it’s a symbol of the Alaska city’s misuse of millions in fees paid by visitors.

The Cruise Lines International Association and its Alaska affiliate filed a lawsuit against the city and borough of Juneau on Tuesday in federal court in Anchorage. They’re challenging the legality of so-called head tax fees paid by cruise passengers who visit Alaska’s picturesque capital.

Lawmakers rewrite fisheries tax bill

JUNEAU — A House fisheries committee advanced a rewrite of Gov. Bill Walker’s fisheries tax bill on Tuesday, diverting half of the potential revenue into a seafood marketing fund.

The bill, one of six proposed taxes on industries from Walker, could raise an additional $18 million in revenue by adding a 1-percent tax increase to portions of the commercial fishing industry.

Bills propose adding legislators to gas line board

JUNEAU — Two Republican lawmakers want to add legislative oversight to the board of an organization that plays a key role in Alaska’s natural gas pipeline project development.

Both Sen. Mia Costello and House Speaker Mike Chenault have proposed adding two non-voting lawmakers to the board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. The state-sanctioned gas line corporation would hold portions of Alaska’s interest in the liquefaction facilities. The Senate is expected to consider her bill on Wednesday.

Special legislative session on budget may be called

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said he is willing to call the Legislature into a special session if lawmakers don’t pass any revenue proposals to help close a multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

His push for more income comes as the state’s Department of Revenue on Monday released a forecast showing another $300 million drop in funding for the current year and a $564 million drop for 2017. (See related story, page 1.)

Soldotna not ready for pot sales

While the city of Soldotna is now a local regulatory authority — allowing it to profit from the commercial production, testing and sale of marijuana — no businesses will be selling, growing or testing marijuana in Soldotna for the next two years.

The Soldotna City Council on Dec. 9 voted to put a moratorium on allowing marijuana businesses to open in the city after more than an hour of testimony from the public.

Cook Inlet Energy parent firm files for bankruptcy protection

KENAI — After more than a month of negotiations, Miller Energy Resources Inc. filed Oct. 1 for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and reorganization.

The parent company of Alaska-based Cook Inlet Energy blamed the substantial decline in oil prices, a drilling plan that resulted in lower-than-expected additional production and the withdrawal of a private lender who had promised the company a more than $165 million loan to refinance its outstanding debt, according to a media release.

Three companies file claims against Cook Inlet Energy

Three companies have filed claims in federal bankruptcy court seeking more than $2.6 million in unpaid bills owed by Cook Inlet Energy LLC.

Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc., MI-SWACO and Schlumberger Technology Corp. filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against the Alaska-based subsidiary of Miller Energy Resources citing payment owed for goods, materials and services.

Inlet Fish Producers sold to Seattle-based North Pacific Seafoods

Two Cook Inlet processing facilities will be added to a growing list of salmon production businesses owned by the Seattle-based North Pacific Seafoods.

The acquisition, announced June 30, will add the Kenai and Kasilof plants currently owned by Inlet Fish Producers to the five shore-based processing plants North Pacific Seafoods operates in Alaska.

Hang on:

The bulls won the weekend at the Ninilchik Rodeo.

Riders had no luck on John Wayne, Dark Town, Hizenberg and Calico as all jumped — or were thrown — before the eight-second mark.

 Just one rider, Chris Manis, managed to best a bull named Snubbin Post to win both the weekend of bull riding and $550.

Competitors in other events had varying degrees of success besting broncos, roping calfs, racing around barrels, running poles and — for one lucky kid — grabbing the ribbon from a calf’s tail to win just over $70 in cash.

Kenai Peninsula Borough to seek disaster declaration

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker met with Kenai Mayor Pat Porter and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre on Wednesday to discuss state resource use, a potential statewide burning ban and a disaster declaration for the Kenai Peninsula.

The more than 2,500-acre Card Street wildfire, alongside several smaller burns on the Kenai Peninsula, have stretched local firefighting resources thin, while state resources are being devoted to a large fire in Willow and others in the state.

Assembly scheduled to vote on budget at June 2 meeting

Debate over the value of marketing, small business development and the Kenai Peninsula’s economic development district dominated budget discussion May 19 as Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members worked to cut spending. 

The FY 2015-16 budget proposal for the borough went through a second round of scrutiny, public comment and wrangling between borough members during several committee meetings and the general assembly meeting.  It will go through one more round of public comment before being adopted by the assembly during its June 2 meeting.

Declining energy sales prompt 9 HEA layoffs

Nine people were laid off from positions within the Homer Electric Association last week.

Their departure represents about $1 million in savings for the company which has seen declining energy sales for the past several years.

In 2012, the company sold 490,000 megawatt hours — a megawatt is about one million watts — and by 2014 that number had fallen to 465,000, according to a media release the company sent out on Sunday.

Assembly takes food tax measure off table

After a lengthy debate about the morality of taxing food, funding for public schools, revenue for local cities and questioning voters for a third time on a change to the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s food sales tax structure, the issue has again been put to rest after the borough assembly voted to kill a resolution that would have put it on the ballot in October.

The deciding factor was assembly member Kelly Wolf’s decision to motion for reconsideration after amending the food tax proposal to be put on the ballot during the body’s April 7 meeting.

Cook Inlet clams up for grabs

A remote beach on the west side of Cook Inlet has seen an uptick in traffic as clammers hitch rides with charter boat captains or hop on small planes to find a stretch of beach where many say the razor clams are beyond comparison to any found on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Polly Creek beach, near Tuxedni Bay and the Crescent River, is so rarely used by sport and personal-use fishermen that Alaska’s Board of Fisheries has yet to establish a limit on the number of clams that a person can dig up in the area.

Brown bear harvest cap lowered by BOG

The Alaska Board of Game voted to give Kenai Peninsula brown bears a bit more protection by lowering the cap on how many can be killed each year before the state shuts down the hunt.

After hearing from federal Kenai National Wildlife Refuge managers and biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the board set caps for the upcoming season at a range of 50-60 bears total with a maximum of 8-12 adult females.

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