Juneau is using the money it receives from visitors who arrive to the city via cruise ship to fight a lawsuit filed by the cruise industry alleging it is misusing those funds to develop a park featuring a life-sized whale sculpture a mile away from port.

Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove said Juneau is paying $50,000 for legal counsel and most of it will be covered by marine passenger fees, KTOO-FM reported (http://bit.ly/24t1fLR).

"They're coming out of the waterfront acquisition fund and the majority of the money in that fund are marine passenger fees or have come through that source," Cosgrove said.

The suit filed by the Cruise Lines International Association in April challenges the legality of the city's use of a $5 per-passenger fee it collects from the nearly 1 million cruise ship passengers who visit annually. It claims the money was spent on projects that violate federal guidelines and seeks to have Juneau stop "the assessment, collection and improper use" of the fees.

Listed among the association's complaints is the $10 million price tag on a planned park featuring a nearly 50-foot whale sculpture, along with upgrades to the city's waterfront.

Cosgrove said a legislative audit of the marine passenger fees released in February found the city was in compliance with regulations.

Two law firms are representing the city. Juneau has its own legal team, but Cosgrove said it does not have the capacity to defend the case.

A Cruise Line International rep could not be reached for comment.

___

Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com