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Mat-Su officials face deadline on ferry grant

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Authorities in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough have met behind closed doors to come up with a way to repay a multimillion dollar debt to the federal government involving an unused ferry.

Assembly members met Tuesday after receiving an ultimatum from the Federal Transit Administration to repay a $12 million grant for the ferry that has never seen service, KTUU reported (http://is.gd/95GNcS ).

The federal agency wants the money returned within 30 days, and will start assessing a late fee after 90 days.

The borough took delivery of the ferry Susitna in 2012 to be a commuter link between Anchorage and Port MacKenzie, but there's no landing for the ferry in the state's largest city.

"It seems like we're kind of locked into a situation where we can't perform because we can't take the ferry across to another city that just hasn't been very cooperative in letting us have a landing," assembly member Vern Halter said.

The city has attempted to sell the ferry, but efforts haven't been successful.

"We don't know all the options that are out there but we've been trying to sell, that's no secret, we've been trying to persuade people that we really need a way out of this and so this kind of puts the fire under that effort," said assembly member Jim Sykes.

The ferry has never seen the waters of Cook Inlet and sits docked in Ketchikan, which is costing the borough $29,000 a month.

The federal agency said if the $12 million isn't repaid within 90 days, they will begin assessing an annual late fee of 6 percent

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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