Should a recent proposal by LIFAC to selectively reduce some ferry fares move forward as is, or not? It’s great that LIFAC has started to tackle this issue, and we all sincerely applaud them for their efforts. The question now is, “Is this particular proposal what we need, or does it need further review and modification?”
Surprisingly, 31 of the 33 islanders at the PLIC (Protect Lummi Island Community) public meeting (October 29, 2014) who stayed to hear all of the discussion voted NO to ‘just go for it’. Instead, the strong majority opted to ask LIFAC to hold off, review and modify details of the proposal before taking it to the County Council.
Based on that community input, the PLIC Board has submitted to LIFAC a letter reversing its original support of LIFAC’s proposal and requesting further consideration of issues raised by the community. They have posted that information on their website (plicferry.org), Facebook and NextDoor Lummi Island.
This community choice may surprise some islanders and LIFAC members, because pretty much all Lummi Islanders have abhorred the flat, arbitrarily set and patently unfair $3 across-the-board surcharge that the County Council approved in 2010, to improve the financial health of the Ferry Fund. Most people were relieved upon hearing that the council-appointed LI Ferry Advisory Committee
(LIFAC) approved, at its October 7, 2014 meeting, recommending that the County Council reduce some fares. As of today, neither LIFAC minutes of that meeting or their proposal are published on their County or non-county websites; their proposal is available only via the links above, which go to the original links on the PLIC website.
LIFAC has not yet published the essential financial analysis, including details and assumptions, upon which based their recommendations. That information is needed to permit objective assessment by citizens of LIFAC’s particular recommendations. The most recent draft of their proposal (October 29, 2014) presents high-level descriptions and general arguments favoring their proposal. I have sent them an email asking them to making all the data and analysis public as soon as possible, and hold a public hearing after a sufficient time for people to review those materials.
Thanks to PLIC for taking on this crucial work of community communications. LIFAC meetings generally are sparsely attended, for many reasons, so few people heard any of the discussion at the October 7 meeting. The crowd at the October 29 PLIC meeting was much larger, and discussions were robust and well-moderated.