My Edmonds News online news partner The Seattle Times reports that Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire wants to transfer the control and responsibility for the state ferry system to a new Puget Sound regional ferry district, which would be able to tax residents in Western Washington counties served by ferries.
The ferry district proposal includes all or portions of Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.
The district would have local taxing authority to augment income from fares and a state subsidy for “core service” for the nation’s largest ferry system, the Times said.
You can find the entire Times story here.
Because the proposal has the potential to financially impact already strapped local governments, My Edmonds Newsasked Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon and Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper for their thoughts on the governor’s plan.
“The Washington ferry system is the sole responsibility of the state, yet the state is continually pushing its problems onto local governments,” County Executive Reardon said. “If they can’t fix it, what makes them think communities like Edmonds and Kingston can?
“I plan to meet with the various stakeholders – our local mayors, riders and our regional partners in King and Pierce counties – to determine how this might work. But until we know whether this plan will cover costs and provide the necessary service, I am very skeptical.”
Added Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper:
“While I appreciate Gov. Gregiore attempting to find an expedited financial fix to the state transportation crisis, her proposal not only misses the mark, it misses the target all together.
“The state has a responsibility to maintain a statewide transportation infrastructure and our Ferries are a part of that infrastructure. To attempt to ask the voters in a narrow region of the state to assume the cost is an unfair burden. The Governor asking the people of Edmonds to pay for the state’s failing infrastructure compounds the city’s shouldering of preexisting burdens to mitigate impacts of state system users, such as traffic congestion, pollution and blights to road and waterways.”
Local governments are in no less difficult financial times than the state. This proposal is merely another unfunded mandate, coming in a time when we are already reducing local services due to budgets.