Rich Frye has investigated the subject of a ferry system audit, and has submitted the following contact information for those interested in making a request to the State Auditor’s office that such an audit be scheduled:
Most recent conversations about the ferry have revolved around speculations about what revenues the County is not including that should be, and what costs they are counting as operating expenses that shouldn’t be. To clarify those questions I recently had a chat with the State Auditor’s office, and discovered that apparently a number of citizens have already submitted ferry system audit requests via the Auditor’s Office Citizen’s Hotline.
While the scope of state audits of local governments is limited, they do include cost allocations, misuse of restricted funds, and contracts. The office confirmed that fuel tax refunds ARE earmarked for ferry operating expenses, and that this has been as issue in audits of other county ferry systems.
The more citizen voices are heard, the more likely it is that an official audit will be conducted (though not before April) to resolve the accounting rumors we have all heard and clarify what “15% of operating costs” actually means.
It is very easy to make such a request online through their Citizen Hotline. If the link doesn’t work, just go to https://www.sao.wa.gov/ and select “Citizen Hotline” under the “Investigations” tab. The form is easy to fill out. Alternatively you can leave a phone message at the toll-free number or send a letter:
Toll-free phone number: 1-866-902-3900
Mail: Washington State Auditor’s Office
P.O. Box 40021
Olympia WA 98504-0031
Suggested talking points:
The validity and accuracy of accounting for
- administrative cost allocations to the ferry system;
- repair and replacement of various dock structure and vessel capital improvements;
- ferry administration costs;
- allocation of fuel tax refunds;
- ferry-related contracts
Finally, we are very concerned that County negotiators are about to pay Lummi Nation some $200,000 per year (from our fares) to lease a tiny area of tidelands that could possibly be attained for free through a right of way request from BIA (US Bureau of Indian Affairs). We would appreciate an opinion from the Auditor’s Office on this issue.