(August 2011 photo of Spirit of Kingston at Seattle dock, by Oran Viriyincy, via Flickr)
Two notes this morning about the King County Ferry District, the agency responsible for the Water Taxi. First, its board’s Executive Committee meets this afternoon, and will consider a resolution to formalize and finalize bringing the Spirit of Kingston (backstory here and here) into the fleet as a virtually free backup.
Second – the Legislature is considering a bill, co-sponsored by local State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, that would kill the Ferry District (as well as the county Flood Control District) and consolidate operations into the rest of county government. But that’s a good thing, local County Councilmember Joe McDermott tells WSB:
Yes, the Ferry District consolidation is something that I very much support. Both as the Chair of King County’s budget committee as well as the Chair of the Ferry District, I am always looking for ways to provide more efficient and cost effective service to County residents.
The “fiscal note” for the bill says it would save $400,000, which McDermott explained:
As a special district government, the Ferry District is required to have our own administrative services separate from the County’s. The operation of the water taxi is provided through a contract with the King County Marine Division, but the administrative functions are the District’s responsibility. These services include contracted legal, financial, policy and communications. Additional costs also include miscellaneous items such as rent for office space and insurance.
Consolidation will eliminate the need for these contracts. The King County Department of Transportation will be able to utilize the resources already available to help with the administration of the District. I also believe our clients will be better served through consolidation. For example, the resources of DOT will be readily available to help provide seamless communication and marketing in a way that the District has been unable to do to date.
With the District operating on unsustainable funding, any savings will help to keep the water taxi operable. Since I have been Chair of the Ferry District, I have supported consolidation efforts. A similar bill was introduced last year and made it through the House. It had the votes in the Senate but when the Senate budget coup happened the clock ran out. In fact, it was just a few bills away from being considered by the full Senate when the coup happened.
I am pleased that the bill passed the House unanimously … and I’m hopeful we will see similar support in the Senate.
Following HB 1324′s first Senate reading today, you can track its progress here.
P.S. The Water Taxi’s 7-day-a-week schedule is only four weeks away, starting on April 8th.
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