Meeting Notes: Ferry Committee Work Session with Tom Ballard 2009.10.20


October 20, 2009


Present:  Tom Ballard, Ron Panzero, Glen Veal, Allen Bush, Carl Cady, Steve Orsini

Meeting held at Skagit County Public Works 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm


1.       6th Street Modifications: 

a.       Due to the way the two grants, one for the new terminal and the other for the 6th Street modification, were granted, it is not clear who is the lead agency for the 6th Street modification.  Discussions are currently underway between the County and the City to clarify this issue, but it appears that the City will be the lead agency.  Further, the ferry has controlling rights over the dock from the State Department of Natural Resources but not I street even where I connects to the dock.  Thus the County may have little actual authority over I or 6th.  It appears that the current 6th Street plan, with bulb outs, stripping, and permit parking for 6th Street residents will go forward.  Ballard stated, when the issue was raised, that the decision to make a total of two holding lanes on the dock has not been made.  There are a number of issues with the two-lane proposal that may be counter productive and the whole concept is under review. 


b.       Glen Veal reported that he had discussion with Nick Petrish, Anacortes City Councilperson involved with the 6th Street Residents, requesting another public meeting and further discussion of the current plan.  Petrish took this up with Mayor Dean Maxwell today and reported that Maxwell will not support further discussion of the plan and wants the current plan to be submitted  so that the funds can be released.


c.       The outcome of the discussion between the Skagit County and the City will be monitored. 


2.       Round Table: 

a.       The Board of County Commissioners have indicated that there are essentially two options:  Kill the Round Table or agree to an expanded Round Table with a charter yet to be drafted.  The other option that has been discussed by the BOCC (Board of County Commissioners) is to have a committee established under the Sub Area plan for Guemes.  The Ferry Committee (FC) stated that this probably would take years to develop given the progress to date of the Sub Area Plan.  Ballard stated that there was renewed pressure to get the Sub Area plan approved but did agree it would still take inordinate time to produce a committee under the Sub Area Plan. Veal stated that the Round Table had value and the Committee was in favor of an expanded Round Table.  The FC asked who the County might invite as members of a new Round Table.

b.       Panzero had developed a list of possibilities which was handed out and includes the following:


Guemes Island Fire Department

Anacortes Fire Department

Anacortes Police Department

Skagit County Sheriff’s Department

Island Hospital


Citizens for Responsible Transportation Management

Property Owners Association (resident and non-resident)

Utilities (Propane, PUD, PSE)

Skagit Builders Association

Planning Department

Health Department

Public Works Department Operations Division

Skagit Transit

Anacortes School District

Waste Management

Neighborhood Residents- City of Anacortes.


Carl Cady noted that the Ferry Committee was not on the list, and this oversight was addressed as the list had only been created the night before with the basic assumption that the Ferry Committee would be a part of the new Round Table.  Also noted was the fact that very large committees tend to be unable to get substantive work accomplished.


c.       This assumed conclusion is that this new constituted Round Table will be proposed to the BOCC with by-laws and attendees within the next couple of months with corresponding demise of the current Round Table Resolution.


3.       Change to a three-person crew: Ballard is under directive from the BOCC to implement the three-person crew which will go into effect on December 1, 2009, but with the caveat that the determining measure will be whether the current schedule can be kept with the three-person manning  level.  If the schedule cannot be kept, meaning that the crew’s breaks and hour of work cessation at end of shift is not maintained, then the issue will be revisited  as a failure to maintain the union contract.  This criteria was protested by the FC, and there was a long discussion which touched on topics including current ticketing procedures, the fare structure (i.e. too many fare categories), too much cash handling, and the current role of the captain in loading the vessel.  Carl Cady was asked to provide one of the fare structure proposals previously developed, within a couple of weeks, to take a closer look at alternative fare structure, categories, and pass discounts. Carl said that proper development of a fares structure, involving the FC and ferry management, would be extremely difficult to accomplish in this short period. The net of the discussion remains the adherence to the schedule as the deciding criteria regarding the efficacy of the three person crew.


4.       The Fare Recovery Model: The BOCC does not want to open up the whole issue of the Fare Recovery Model at this time.  (Just as they do not and will not reopen the discussion of the hours of operation.  The sense is that there are check marks by these issues, decisions have been made and will not be easily revisited.  In the case of the hours of operation, the start and stop time of the operation will not be revisited until after January, 2010, and probably with great reluctance even after that date.  The sense is that the BOCC finds that if the islanders want service after or before the hours of the current schedule, that they can pay for that service themselves.) Glen made the argument that some of the operational saving that the FC has recommended, when implemented, could be used to provide long standing service that the BOCC removed in January 2009.


a.       The current fare recovery model stands, which includes the addition of all operating costs as defined in the deficit reimbursement legislation which includes expenditures for maintenance of docks and expenses.  Cady stated that one of the major problems in this model is the inability to agree on what should be capitalized and what should fall into the operational side of the ledger. When the new model was accepted by the FC it was on the condition that we would have some oversight of which expenses should be maintenance expense and what is capital investment. The example given, at Tom Ballard’s request, was that of the cost of the Arrow launch during the recent 2005 dolphin replacement on the Guemes side.  The $230,000 cost of the launch was added to the operations account while the FC finds that such cost should be counted as part of the Capital Improvement cost and not as part of the operational cost, as was done by the County in this case.


b.       Even though the fare recovery model is not open for review and will not be changed back to the Bridge Analogy, two documents were handed out:  The first calculated the projected 2010 shortfall  as $179, 633.  At least one of the Commissioners has stated that the County will not have another fare increase at this juncture.  Then Ballard and Panzero handed out a summary of budget as if it had been calculated using the Bridge Analogy giving a projected revenue shortfall on $41,947.  Carl Cady will check these figures against his own calculations.  It was noted that the Deficit Reimbursement for this last fiscal year was only $74,000.00 down from an average of over $200,000 in the last four years.



Note taker: Steve Orsini


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