Meeting Notes: Ferry Committee Meeting with Ron Panzero 2009.06.04


June 4, 2009


Those present: Ron Panzero, Allen Bush, Carl Cady, , Dyvon Havens, Steve Orsini, Glen Veal


Memorial Day Weekend Report

A Saturday or holiday schedule was used on Memorial Day. Ron Panzero reports that all cars were cleaned up from the Guemes side by 5:00 or 6:00 pm on Memorial Day. There were only one or two extra trips required. Suggestion to email reminder of similar holiday schedule to islanders a few days prior to the weekend.


Ferry Schedule

Ron Panzero has received a lot of letters re: the cut-off time of 8pm on Sundays. Glen suggested we talk with the Commissioners about getting the midnight ferry back on Fridays and Saturdays and the 9 pm and 10 pm back on Sundays. Ron says the Commissioners are set on the current schedule through the end of this year, although the latest letters may be influential in changing the schedule for next year.


July 4 could be a challenge, since the 4th is on a Saturday, which means the last ferry on Sunday will be the normal 8:00 pm.


Level of Service

Lengthy discussion of the definition of level of service. Need to consider how many benefit from a specific service, the cost, etc. Need a method of calculating these factors, perhaps a formula to assess balance. Suggestion to discuss this in greater length in the future.


Draft Resolution Rescinding the Round Table Resolution of 2004

Following the last meeting with Ron Panzero, Ron emailed to the GIFC a draft resolution (see draft resolution the GIFC web site at rescinding Resolution No. 20040393 (, which establishes the Round Table, in favor of a more informal process for public input. This draft resolution was initiating by Jim Voetberg, the previous Public Works director. Ron thinks we need more opportunity for input from outside influences, from people who don’t have a vested interest in the ferry like island residents do. He feels the responsibilities given the Ferry Committee in the previous resolution are not needed. Steve argued that islanders pay 70% of the cost of operations and they use the ferry substantially more than others. The argument that all of Skagit County is not represented is one that will always be there. In 1981 the County Commissioners asked that a Ferry Committee be established so that matters pertaining to the ferry could be discussed via this Committee. Glen pointed out that islanders also have a bigger stake in terms of the amount that goes to the County in the form of property taxes. Steve also pointed out the need for a group like the Ferry Committee to understand the complexity and details of ferry operation so as to be able to present the facts to islanders. He reminded us that the ferry committee has no voting rights at the Round Table.  Public Works makes all the final decisions. Dyvon mentioned the need for accountability and continuity. Glen has no problem with having more people on the Round Table, but does not think eliminating the Ferry Committee from the Round Table is appropriate. Ron made it clear that he has no intention in eliminating the ferry committee, which he would have no authority to do, or eliminating the ferry committee from the Round Table process.  Ron stated that the ferry committee is an important conduit for the island and will continue to meet at their request at any time.  As for the resolution for the Round Table, Ron reiterated that to delegate responsibilities of County matters to a self-appointed user group is inappropriate.  He said that how the resolution got passed in it’s current form was unknown.



Fare Structure

Lengthy discussion comparing the current 65% method of establishing user fees  (see County Resolution No. 20080018 at  vs. the previous bridge analogy method (see County Resolution No. 20040054 at ( The Ferry Committee agreed to the 65% method in an attempt to cooperate with Jim Voetberg, who desired the change, and because we were not apprised of the tremendous increase in operating costs that would ensue in subsequent years. The bridge analogy method is a clearer, more transparent, system with no gray areas. No decision was made at this time to change the current method, but is open for discussion in the future.


I.D. for Senior Disabled Persons

Ron will put a notice on clarifying the procedures for obtaining I.D. for purchasing tickets at reduced rates.


Bridge Work

The County has the funding for completing the work in 2010 on both the Anacortes and Guemes sides. He plans to talk with Trident and the Port to see if there is a location to dock a passenger boat during the outage.


Ferry costs

Carl passed out two documents for future discussion by the group. The first, a graph, shows the differences in ridership by day of week between summer and winter. Its purpose is to assist in determining when, and if, a fourth crew member is needed. The second document is a summary of the costs/savings of additional ferry service and incremental staffing costs.


New Terminal

Ron Panzero reported that the Guemes ferry terminal project is on the Prioritized Federal ARRA Projects for Local Transportation Projects List.  The ferry terminal project is number 6 on the list when the funds become available. A 6th Street renovation project is also on the ARRA Projects list at the #4 spot. 


Steve suggested stimulus funds could be used to buy a foot passenger boat as a back up when the ferry is out. It would save the County money in the long run by eliminating rental fees for the passenger boat. It would also potentially solve the problems we are currently experiencing with serving disabled persons during ferry down times. Dyvon suggested such a boat could be shared with other ferry entities. A passenger ferry could be purchased for less than $500,000. However, it was pointed out the project must be “shovel ready” to receive stimulus funds, so this would not qualify.







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