City leaders in Juneau, Alaska, have misspent millions in fees from cruise ship passengers to build an artificial island with a life-sized statue of a humpback whale, a passenger vessel association said in a lawsuit.
The Cruise Lines International Association on Tuesday sued Alaska's capital city in federal court over the fees.
"The entry fees are only allowed for very narrow uses and they really have to be tied to the ship that the passenger arrives on, not a whale statue a mile away from the dock," John Binkley, president of the Alaska chapter of the association, said in a phone interview.
Officials from Juneau did not return calls seeking comment.
The city collects $8 in fees from each passenger and Juneau also receives funds from a state charge of $5 per passenger, Binkley said.
It all adds up to millions of dollars a year, money the city is using to build a nearly 3-acre (1.2 hectare) artificial island connected to the rest of town by an elevated walkway.
The lawsuit contends those expenditures are unwarranted, and it seeks a ruling from the judge that would prohibit the city from "imposing or collecting the entry fees, in any amount."
The whale statue, which depicts a humpback rising out of a pool and arching backward, will be prominently displayed at the island park, but according to a website for the project it was funded with private donations and not from passenger fees.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Alistair Bell)