Reardon, Cooper comment on Governor’s plan for ferries

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.

  1. Isn’t this the Government 2.0 that Councilman Wilson is discussing tonight? The Transportation Benefits District is exactly the same thing as the Goveror’s proposed Ferry District and while Mayor Cooper endorsed Prop 1, somehow it is wrong at a state level?

  2. The major users live on the peninsula and benefit from living there.Shouldn’t the users of the ferry system bear the cost of keeping the system operating?

  3. Isn’t the Ferry System part of the State Highways? Does that mean that we no longer have to support highways in Eastern Washington. Maybe we should take the ferries off our City Logo.

  4. To Ron Wombolt The people on the peninsula do pay for the ferry system everytime they get on the boat. The goverment failed again they have all the numbers in front of them it shouldnt be a mystery what it cost to run those boats and how much money they bring in, why should we have to pay for a mess that the state created, and if the ferrys are part of the transportation system and running in the red why are they doing that dumb via duc which will have huge cost overruns sound tranisit and everything else they have spent way too much money on before they fix what they got speaking about sound transit I see somebody got killed at a crossing last night, I predicted that would happen 6months ago and informed seattle police what people were doing

  5. The ferry system is part of our state highway system and should stay the responsibility of the state. Do the 520 and I-90 bridges pay for themselves? No. The whole system is subsidized by all of us one way or another – just like education – and frankly that is a good thing.

    The entire system is a critical part of our economic infrastructure. Without is we would all suffer, non-users included.

  6. Before we jump to conclusions let’s do a little thinking about this. By bringing this to the table the Gov is really saying let’s look at the highway dept budget for all that it does and pick it apart. The Gov picked a piece of the service that is subsidized by the whole state. Probably mostly gas tax but probably some other form of flow from the general fund or what ever. If we asked for all the money the state is currently paying for the ferry system and then build our own model for how to provide the service then we may well com out ahead. When we examine all the funding of the DOT and the revenues that support it we may learn what else is subsidized. Do the folks in Eastern Washington pay enough to build an maintain the state highway system on the east side? Probably not they are being subsidized by the west side. Not wrong, just a statement. So if we took the money, managed the process as Puget Sounders I would bet we would come out ahead.

    Once we have control of the system we could then control the other elements of DOT that are a part of the over all picture. SR 104 would be under our control. We could claim thr rights to the Union Oil Property for our use. We could gain control of the DOT property between the Antique Mall and the new restaurant that replaced Skippers. That might make some of the council happy. Those two properties alone would make for some real excitement in town. We could even put in a soccer field at the union oil site, put up some wetland viewing areas from that side of the wet lands and find a way to help the fish in the hatchery get to the ocean.

    So let’s think about this. One person’s problem (The DOT Budget) may be just an opportunity in the making.

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