Time for a Ferry System Audit?

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:

Online form

Toll-free phone number: 1-866-902-3900

Mail:   Washington State Auditor’s Office

ATTN: Hotline

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.

One thought on “Time for a Ferry System Audit?

  1. A ferry performs its office with respect to narrow waters and confined places, and is concerned in transporting travelers from shore to shore and is a matter of local concern ; and it is to be distinguished from the carrying of persons or property on long voyages and from navigation in general. The waters on which they are to be established must be of such a character that they may be traversed at regular and brief intervals by boats adapted to the business. The fact that the water is tidal does not alter the power to license ferries upon it. But general authority to a county court to establish ferries does not include the right to establish them over rivers upon the further shore of which lies a foreign nation.

    The Law of Waters and Water Rights – Henry Philip Farnham

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