Meeting Notes: Ferry Committee with Dave Sheridan 2009.07.01

MEETING NOTES:  FERRY COMMITTEE MEETING WITH DAVE SHERIDAN, SKAGIT COUNTY INTERIM PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR

July 1, 2009

 

Present: Dave Sheridan, Glen Veal, Steve Orsini, Carl Cady, Dyvon Havens, Terry Ebersole, Allen Bush

 

Dave Sheridan announced he will be retiring July 31. He does not know who the next interim director will be, but it will likely not be someone from within. Dave will be recommending to the Board of County Commissioners that they hire a permanent director soon to ensure stability of the department.

 

The purpose of this meeting is to further facilitate communication between Guemes Island residents and the County.

 

Dave asked for a review of how the Guemes Island Ferry Committee (GIFC) was created. Glen provided an account. Originally the Committee was part of the Community Club. The County Commissioners in office at that time asked for the Committee to have broader representation, because they were getting too many individuals coming into their office with their own requests, complaints, and agendas. The GIFC, while not created by the County,  was more formalized at their request; but the Task Force following the Berk Study codified it. A recommendation of the Berk & Associates Study was that the GIFC become more formalized as a voice of the ridership and that it develop bylaws and an election process. At that time, election to a seat on the GIFC was by a hand vote at the Community Hall by those present at meetings. In late 2002 the existing ferry committee responded to the Berk study recommendations by developing a charter that was approved by the voters at the Hall. Additionally, elections were held at that meeting to fill all five positions on the ferry committee.

 

At a later quarterly meeting the GIFC developed a proposed  Charter revision,  involving a more formal election process for GIFC members that was approved by the voters at the Hall. Many alternatives were considered in deciding who should have voting rights to elect the committee, including registered voters of the Guemes Island precinct as well as Island property owners. As a way to include non-residing property owners, the charter states that any registered voter in the State of Washington may be elected to the Ferry Committee. The Commissioners encouraged the GIFC to have the Guemes Island precinct be the electorate since this is the process used for all municipal elections.  While it is not possible to represent every single person who rides the ferry, the GIFC has striven to represent the majority opinion, as determined in part by various surveys. Carl pointed out the GIFC has four meetings a year for the public, posts information on linetime.org, utilizes email to inform riders of ferry matters, and maintains its own web site.

 

Draft Resolution to Rescind the 2004 Resolution Establishing the Ferry Round Table

Carl asked if there is a reason for rescinding the 2004 Resolution instead of making the existing one work. Many procedures (for example, developing an annual work plan) set forth in the Resolution have not been followed by past Public Works directors. Dave Sheridan agreed that having an annual work plan that is shared with the Commissioners is a good idea, while Ron sees it as onerous. Ron said that if there are issues involving the public, he would address them. If there are political issues, the public should have representation.   Ron felt that the current Round Table (RT) Resolution gave the GIFC too much control and interfered with management and operation by Public Works. Ron stated that it is ot his intention to get rid of the ferry committee or the public process but to not abrogate any of Public Works’ responsibilities. Ron also reminded everyone that this proposed resolution is a draft and work in progress. Steve pointed out that the GIFC has no vote within the procedures of the Roundtable and that our role is to work collaboratively to represent, and bring forward the concerns of, the ridership for consideration by the County.

 

Allen pointed out there have been four Public Works directors and three ferry managers in recent years, and the GIFC has attempted to educate each new person. Frequently, agreed-on processes have been dropped because the new person in charge does not want to follow them. Steve said the RT is a way to achieve continuity and to have a more formal structure for resolving issues and for Public Works to communicate with the public. It does not take anything away from Public Works, since the GIFC has no voting power. Dave acknowledged that high turnover with staff is a problem. He said an annual ferry operations work plan should be developed.

 

Dave said the County Commissioners will be coming to Guemes in August instead of July. Glen suggested that, since Dave will have departed before the August meeting, the GIFC should prepare a list of possible questions riders will likely raise so that the Commissioners are better prepared for the meeting. Dave asked the GIFC to send him any questions that might be addressed to the Commissioners at the August meeting on Guemes. Dave also suggested that  a discussion could be held at that meeting  about the draft resolution to replace the existing Roundtable Resolution. He said that while the Commissioners are aware of the draft resolution, it will not be formally presented to them until after they visit Guemes.

 

County Budget

The call for the budget is scheduled for July 13. Draft budgets are due from the departments around late August. The budget is adopted in early December.

 

Allen commented that the spring work plan meeting called for in the RT Table resolution never happened. If the County is looking at ways to reduce costs, they are remiss in not having the spring meeting with the Commissioners. If there are to be cuts in the ferry budget, that needs to be addressed prior to August. Ron will let the GIFC know when the information is available about Deficit Reimbursement for 2009.

 

Four-crew operation

Carl asked if the three-person crew operation would start again in July and Ron said he plans to run with a four-person crew until  September 15.

 

 

Ron would like to meet later with the GIFC to discuss schedule adjustments for the Fall. Ron also said he was preparing a new draft of the resolution to replace the Round Table resolution and will email it to the GIFC.

 

 

 

Havens with input from GIFC and County staff

7.10.09

 

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