Meeting Notes: Ferry Committee Work Session with Tom Ballard 2009.10.08

MEETING NOTES:  FERRY COMMITTEE WORK SESSION WITH TOM BALLARD, SKAGIT COUNTY INTERIM PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR

October 8, 2009

 

Present:  Tom Ballard, Ron Panzero, Tom Ballard, Glen Veal, Dyvon Havens, Terry Ebersole, Allen Bush, Carl Cady

Meeting held at Skagit County Public Works 10:00 am to Noon

 

Topic: Discussion of proposed agenda for upcoming Roundtable meeting on 10/27/07

 

The meeting involved a free-ranging discussion of the Work Plan, November presentation to the BCC (Board of County Commissioners), Roundtable Resolution, Fares Target Resolution/methodology and general BCC expectations.

 

Tom stated that his impression is that the BCC will not expect to increase the fares target for 2010 irregardless of what the target resolution 20080018 might indicate. Jean Alden’s calculations would indicate that a fares increase would not be necessary. They are still waiting for CRAB to report how much deficit reimbursement will be received for 2009. Carl suggest that since these revenues are rolling five-year averages, an estimate for 2009 could be used without significant impact. We decided that the next meeting would be another working session rather than a Roundtable where the public is invited

 

Work Plan --Tom wants to have the FC/PW (Ferry Committee/Public Works) work group prioritize the Work Plan issues that were put into a categorized sequence by Carl. Tom said that the BCC are interested in seeing a Work Plan for 2010, and even though they are not particularly interested in discussing ferry schedule, Tom would like everything on the table. Tom has also suggested to the BCC that all of the ferry operation costs need to be identified, including amortization of capital assets. He agreed that none of the other Washington ferry systems are including capital costs in their fare recovery models and was not suggesting that Skagit County do so. However, there is a desire of the BCC to understand all ferry costs and who is now, or should be, paying for them. Tom is interested in what the ferry user-group constituents want in the way of service and what they are willing to pay for that service. We agreed that for the next working meeting, both PW and the FC would prioritize the Work Plan list separately, using this input to find what each group is thinking and to assist moving forward in the next meeting.

 

November report to the BCC – Tom said that the report should include the Work Plan for 2010 (there will be no report for 2009 since there was no plan), the fare recovery model results related to R200080018, a philosophical layout of what the Roundtable might look like, and a recommendation related to fares and ferry schedule.

 

Roundtable—Tom felt like the meetings we were having looked like Roundtable meetings. However, he agreed that without the public being notified that they were more likely “working sessions.” He then discussed his view of various ways that citizen advisory committees (CACs) are used in government. He suggested that Guemes might be constituted to have a broader reach which included island issues beyond ferry issues. He acknowledged that CAC’s could be elected by constituents and/or appointed by the BCC. We discussed how ferry users that were not registered Guemes Island precinct voters might be included in the Roundtable. A representative of non-resident property owners might be appointed to the Roundtable by the BCC. Tom thought that might be possible if a proper vetting process were in place to assure that the individual was really representing a broad constituency.

 

Ridership Input—the FC brought forward the suggestion that the County sponsor a poll of the ridership, which would be designed to find what level of service they desire and are willing to pay for, and how schedules impact their use of the ferry. The FC was concerned that that BCC had responded to a few riders that clamed the FC did not represent their position on extended service and there would always be some that wished to work outside the democratic process. Tom said that he had asked the PW department if they had conducted an “outreach” survey of the ridership prior to introducing the extended service or the recent reduction of service (there had been none). He thought that including a well-designed and controlled survey would be a great idea to add to the Work Plan and that somehow funds could be identified to conduct it. This would be a good way to understand the desires of all the ridership constituents.

 

Level of Service – Tom suggested that level of service expectations were so important that they should be considered before the Fare Recovery target process discussion. His view is that there is no problem with having fare pricing tied to time of day to support operations that are desired but lightly used. The FC pointed out that Jean Alden had at one time thought this type of structure was not legal. The FC said that the addition of more staffing without adding value was hard for the ridership to understand, and the $168,000 per year for the 4th crew members was too costly. Tom asked Carl to provide the calculations used by the FC to support the cost.

 

6th Street Design—The FC asked what the Skagit County PW position was related to the Anacortes PW 6th Street plan. He drew a picture on the board of SCPW recommendation. Apparently the trees planted in the north side in the city parking strip were done so in memory of a past resident and the City agreed not to remove them. The City’s most recent plan called for the ferry loading lane to be on the north of the street with parallel parking (in places) along the curb. A second loading lane would be started parallel to the first lane commencing easterly on 6th Street at the County parking lot. SCPW agreed with the northerly configuration of the loading lane with fewer loading lane restrictions caused by driveways and parallel parking, but told Anacortes PW that the addition of a second loading lane on 6th Street was unmanageable. Also, a curved island at 6th and I Streets would permit ferry line parking around the corner and down I street to the ferry. The only access to the ferry dock and RR grade parking would be traveling west on 6th street (no access east bound on 6th or north bound on I street). There would also continue to be pinch points of the corners of 6th and I Streets. We asked if angle parking would be possible on the South side of 6th street. Tom said that this would not be possible due to the parking lane and trees on the north side of 6th street. SCPW has a planning meeting with Anacortes PW next Tuesday, October 13. The FC also expressed concern for the planned loss of 11 parking spaces at the ferry terminal by creating two loading lanes on the dock. Ron said that the loss of these spaces would be accommodated with unused space on the 6th and K Street parking lot. The FC said that this was not realistic.

 

Next Work Session October 20, 1:00 to 3:30 pm: Discuss prioritization of the ferry issues list; begin creating a Work Plan, review the results of the R20080018 fares target calculations and draft a fare target report for presentation at  the BCC meeting on November 10.

 

Note taker: Carl Cady

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