by Phillip Manning ~ July 22nd, 2013
Correction: The story originally quoted the insurance cost for 2013 as $750,000, which was obtained from 2014 budget documents. After the story was filed, Mat-Su Borough spokesperson Patty Sullivan contacted KTNA to say that figure was the budgeted amount in the event the ferry was used. The actual amount is $165,190 according to Sullivan.
At last week’s meeting, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly voted four-to-three to approve $65,200 for the upkeep costs of the M/V Susitna. The prototype ferry was constructed by the U.S. Navy, and was acquired by the Borough in order to provide a means of crossing the Knik Arm. The plan to construct suitable docking facilities never came to be, and the ferry remains moored in Ketchikan. The idle Susitna has been a steady drain on the Borough coffers, and there is not an end in sight. According to budget documents, the Borough spent nearly one-point-eight million dollars on insurance, storage, and maintenance over the last year.
Borough Manager John Moosey spoke to the Assembly regarding the current status of the dormant ferry. Moosey says that efforts to sell the vessel are still underway, and that the Borough has two offers in hand. While he would not give details on the amounts offered, Moosey says they are “significant.” An additional concern comes from the responsibility of the Mat-Su Borough to repay six million dollars to the Federal Transit Authority. Moosey says that the FTA would not confirm whether they would accept less than that in the event the ferry sold for a lower amount.
The roughly sixty-thousand dollars the Borough spends every month does not cover the cost of insuring the M/V Susitna. Moosey says that the insurance is purchased six months at a time, and the next bill will come due in October. He says that in order to avoid having to pay, that a deal would likely have to be made by the end of next month. If no deal is made, he believes the Borough will be stuck with the boat through the winter.