More on Taxing Districts and Car Ferries

In an effort to clarify the law concerning the County’s ability to use a ferry taxing district to finance a new car ferry, Betsy Schneider has pursued this question.  It will be interesting to see what the county’s legal staff has to say.  (See our previous post on this issue: Ferry Taxing Districts Okay for Car Ferries Too)

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Michael/Betsy Schneider
Date: Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 8:52 PM
Subject: ferry taxing district

Hi Colleen & Wynne,
Here’s a copy of a reply I sent to Frank Abart, the Council members and some other County folks about the county ferry taxing district.  I think the header on the Forum about this subject might better read “County Says Ferry Taxing District OK for car ferries too.”

Yes, it is true that the Legislature removed the term “passenger only” from RCW 36.54.130(2) in 2006.  However, in 2007, the Legislature added another section to that statute (RCW 36.54.130(2)(c)) that is specifically limited to “passenger only” ferries. 

Also, in 2007 the Legislature added the statute that is now RCW 36.54.135 regarding a county ferry district’s bonding authority.  That law specifically limits the bonding authority to financing “passenger only” ferries.

While it was making these changes, the Legislature did not make any changes to RCW 36.54.120 which has, since 2003, limited a county ferry district’s powers to dealing with “passenger only” ferries.

I have attached a copy of the most relevant sections of the statutes currently in effect, which clearly retain the “passenger only” ferry restriction in several relevant sections.

Betsy Schneider
Lummi Island

3 thoughts on “More on Taxing Districts and Car Ferries

  1. Betsy,

    Everyone knows that the Revised Code does not apply to Whatcom County, just go review Whatcom County’s records regarding the statutes like

    RCW 36.75.290
    General penalty.
    It shall be a misdemeanor for any person to violate any of the provisions of this title relating to county roads and bridges unless such violation is by this title or other law of this state declared to be a felony or gross misdemeanor.

    “shall not be vacated”

    Blacks Law Dictionary, pg. 1108
    shall, vb 1. Has a duty to; more broadly. is required to…
    sham, n, 1. Somthing that is not what it seems; a counterfeit; 2. A person who pretends to be somthing that he or she is not; a faker. -sham, vb.-
    sham, adj

  2. Any response yet from the County? Like Todd and many others, I find myself increasingly unsettled by what looks like, shall we say, a pattern of not-very-accurate interpretations of state law by our County legal advisors.

    I’ll change the title of the previous article, too, per Betsy’s suggestion.

  3. I certainly hope this issue is resolved by the AG’s office before the Task Force starts down this road. That’s one of their ‘Priority Areas’, of finding sources of revenue to pay for whatever final price tag is agreed to by the County and Lummi Nation.
    The revenue generated by a new island property tax ($0.75 per $1,000 of assessed valuation) is nearly identical to the current ‘temporary’ lease payment of about $200,000 per year. This would shift the burden to many more part-time residents – the consequences of which are yet unknown.
    Legislative bodies (including County Councils) publicly debate these type decisions all the time. I’m at a loss why we’re still behind closed doors after two years of this nonsense. This isn’t a personnel or legal lawsuit negotiation. We’re negotiating a 25 year contract that binds the citizens of Whatcom County, and Islanders alike to a final settlement that only a handful of people are privy to. What law requires the process to remain TOP SECRET until the puff of smoke rises over the casino?

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