The Alaska Municipal League (AML) recognizes the importance of the ferry system to Alaska’s coastal communities, including and in particular to the local governments whose residents and economic well-being depend on the service the system provides to residents and businesses.

The release today of the AMHS Reshaping Study by DOT&PF – the result of research by Northern Economics – is a necessary next step in an ongoing process that AML hopes will result in a more sustainable system. AML appreciates the contribution of research and recommendations by Northern Economics and the initiative by Governor Dunleavy’s administration to ensure that any action is informed by good data and analysis. That said, we know that AML members will have a lot to offer in response to those recommendations.

While the list of recommendations reflect the work of past studies, AML hopes that it will be through a deliberative and consultative process that those recommendations are acted upon. That means we strongly encourage State agencies to work with and through the legislative process to make policy decisions, and to include local government officials as partners in these discussions. Local governments can offer both perspective and knowledge when it comes to workable solutions.

AML remains committed to addressing in the short term the cuts to winter service that have so negatively impacted coastal communities, whether that comes through an override of the veto of an additional $5 million for the system, or for an infusion through the supplemental budget that helps to overcome current challenges. That should occur even as we work together on solutions that reshape or reform the Alaska Marine Highway System.

AML looks forward to contributing to the ongoing discussion and to supporting members as they participate as well.