Notes, Guemes Island Ferry Committee

Quarter Public Meeting of December 2, 2007

Attendance: 33 + the Ferry Committee and Public Works

Ferry Committee members present: Glen Veal, Marilee Fosbre, Carl Cady, Steve Orsini, Dyvon Havens

Special guests: Jim Voetberg, Director Skagit County Public Works
Ron Panzero, Skagit County Guemes Ferry Manager

Handouts available

1) Memorandum from Jim Voetberg to the Board of Commissioners dated November 26, 2007: Methodology to Calculate Revenue from Ferry Fares

2) Draft Resolution Rescinding R20040054 and Establishing Guemes Island Ferry Ticket Fare Methodology Option A

3) Draft Resolution [included in link above] Rescinding R20040054 and Establishing Guemes Island Ferry Ticket Fare Methodology Option B

4) Resolution #R20040054 currently in place using bridge analogy for setting fare revenues

5) Resolution Establishing a New Ferry Schedule for the Trial Period Adopted under Resolution R20060184 (to be decided upon at Skagit County Public Hearing December 4, 2007)

Chairman Glen Veal opened the meeting and introduced Ferry Committee members and County staff.

Draft Resolution (5) Above

Glen explained the proposed resolution, which will be in effect only through June 30, 2007. At the January 13, 2008, Ferry Committee Quarterly Meeting, the Committee will present a proposal for a revised ferry schedule within the beginning and ending hours established by the County Commissioners. It is hoped this new schedule will better meet the needs of the ridership. The Round Table is currently fine tuning this proposed schedule. Objectives will be to create a schedule that will permit operation with a 3-person crew and to create a dual summer and winter schedule.

Steve Orsini discussed a change the Ferry Committee is recommending in the proposed resolution. The Ferry Committee is requesting the inclusion of the Round Table in the last paragraph of the resolution, to read: “In the development of the ferry schedules, the Public Works Department shall meet, discuss and take into consideration comments from the Guemes Island Ferry Operations and Performance Roundtable and the public. This wording was included in the draft resolution agreed upon within the Round Table until recently, when the Round Table was removed from the language.

Jim Voetberg explained the reason the RT was removed. He received correspondence from other groups representing ridership requesting this change.

Jim is trying to not favor one group over another and to stay as neutral as possible.

Ginger Orsini commented that the quarterly ferry meetings are open forums where no one is restricted from stating their views. If someone comes behind that process, then the process is not working. Gail Nicolls commented that this is the only body that is elected to represent the ridership. Jodi Meekins commented that the Ferry Committee has a charter to represent the public. Glen Veal commented that the Ferry committee operates transparently and openly. Marilee Fosbre commented that the new resolution removes the public hearing process for changing the schedule within the beginning and ending times and therefore adding the language of inclusion of the Round Table is the method of monitoring the process. Carol Pellett commented that only registered voters are allowed to vote for Ferry Committee members and those who live off island do not get to vote.

Ginger Orsini moved to reinstate the language including the Round Table in the process of changing the ferry schedule. Gail Nicolls seconded the motion.

Discussion: Jim commented that it is not appropriate for him to bring this suggestion forward to the Commissioners; however he would not recommend the Commissioners NOT to do it. He needs to stay neutral. Jim wants to be inclusive of everyone. He is trying to get all input, not just one group. He would not object to adding language the included the Round Table.

Voting on the motions results:

29 Yes
3 No

Draft Resolutions (2) and (3) Above

Glen described the Deficit Reimbursement Report (DRR). He explained that Public Works is finding it difficult to defend the bridge analogy to the auditors and therefore the Ferry Committee is in support of changing the fares methodology. Clarification is needed as to the costs that can be amortized. Carl gave a presentation on the DRR elements, which do not include capital costs.

Carl explained the sources of income. The Round Table is trying to come up with a model that will determine what the contributions of the ridership should be. Carl presented a graph showing DRR data and ferry cost and revenues. He also presented a graph showing ridership projections. Passenger trend lines show an average 1% increase over the past 18 years. Only walk-ons trend lines show an average 2% increase per year. He also showed Guemes fares target alternatives. Fare recovery this year was $793,000. Fare recovery target that Public Works desires for 2008 is $846,000.

Max Benjamin commented that docks have always before been excluded from ridership responsibility. He also asked what the County’s contribution from the road fund. He would like this figure included in the revenue numbers. He asked why there is a 3-year average for DRR and 5-year average for Deficit Reimbursement and Motor Vehicle Road Tax. Carl explained those averages are adequate for smoothing out the spikes in the data. Max also wants the Ferry Committee to resolve the matter of the union contract costs of retroactive pay. He also commented that the road fund taxes less the amount actually spent on island roads in a given years should be included in the fare calculation.

Al Bush suggested all the new terms (such as revenue target) and also the new resolution for fares be discarded. He said we had a basis to hold the County’s feet to the fire that they are not doing their job. With the new resolution, we have no control. The Board of Commissioner has not tried to get more money from the Deficit Reimbursement. What prevents the County from continuing to increase fares without trying to contain costs? There must be some accountability by the County.

Carl explained that there is language in the resolution that says the public can request a reduction in the target below 55%

Collaborative efforts

Glen and Marilee thanked Jim and Ron for their interest in containing ferry costs. Carl acknowledged the recent efforts to foster a collaborative relationship with the County, which involves compromise.

The next Quarterly Meeting will be held January 13, 2008, at the Community Center, at which time nominations will be accepted for the Ferry Committee position currently held by Steve Orsini. Steve announced his willingness to run for the position again.

Submitted by Dyvon Havens

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