Editor’s Note: Betsy Schneider has researched some of the issues and complications surrounding the establishment of a ferry taxing district in the attached document (see below). Like all-things-ferry, there is nothing simple about it….
From: Michael/Betsy Schneider
Date: Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 6:17 PM
Subject: ferry taxing districts
Hi Wynne and Colleen,
I noticed that the discussion on the Ferry Forum has turned to the topic of ferry taxing districts. A couple of months ago I did some research on special purpose districts and taxing districts and wrote up a (looooooong) article about it. I was especially interested in the question of a county ferry taxing district for the Lummi Island ferry. I was, and still am, disturbed by the fact that the County is looking to establish a ferry taxing district under a statute which appears to limit such districts to ones that operate “passenger-only” ferries.
Anyway, I am sending you the article I wrote, to post or not post, as you see fit. As always, I need to repeat that I am not licensed to practice law in Washington State, so my thoughts should not be taken as a legal opinion.
In conjunction with this issue, Michael made a couple of phone calls to the Public Works Directors of Skagit and Pierce Counties, which also operate car ferries. The Skagit County Director told him: Skagit County has no special taxing district for ferry funding; they are running a $700,000 deficit; they might look into a taxing district because they thought the law had changed to allow this; in Skagit County ferry docks come under the road fund; and they treat dock repairs, such as replacement of “dolphins,” as capital costs, not operating costs.
The Pierce County Director told him: they don’t have a ferry taxing district; they consider ferries to be “roads”; and they treat repairs to docks, such as “dolphin” repairs, as capital expenditures, not operating costs.
That’s all the news from Lake Wobegon.