Council Legislation

Ordinance No. 2021-102s

Title: An Ordinance of the Pierce County Council Relating to Ferry Fares; Amending Section 10.38.010 of the Pierce County Code, "Passenger and Vehicle Fares," by Adopting a New Ferry Fare Schedule; and Setting an Effective Date.

Status: Passed

Sponsors: Councilmembers Derek Young

Final votes

November 16, 2021
Aye Aye Aye Aye Aye Aye Aye


Documents
Additional legislative records are available below Collapse All  Expand All
 

Public Comments

Name Date Comment
Lynn Baker 10/21/21 7:20 AM Proposing such a large rate increase after the dismal 2021 summer is ridiculous. Canceled ferries, massive overloads, a bad schedule that does not run ferries during peak usage times. Past performance does not justify this increase. It would be helpful to island residents and seniors if Value Pass tickets did not expire and single ride ticket did, and also a Value Pass for seniors with an actual senior discount. With inflation what it is I think this rate increase will impact seniors specifically as most are living on a fixed income. This proposal needs to be rethought out.
Sarah Kennison 10/21/21 8:44 AM Fort Lewis base was established in 1917 and you continue to not respect or represent the military past and present by offering a discount fair on the ferry. I also do not agree with the 2 proposed rate increases as the ferry is just fine, you are only listening to commuters who should be thinking of more viable options for commuting such as walk on, carpool, etc
Russ East 10/21/21 11:52 AM I have two comments to pass onto staff and council regarding the proposed fare increases for the Anderson Island ferry. 1. The time limit for using the value pass should be extended to 90 days to allow regular, but infrequent users to utilize the pass without losing 1 or 2 trips due to expiration. 2. There should be a discounted value pass for Seniors. The current pricing does not give any benefit to Seniors, and also penalizes us if we travel infrequently. Thank you. Russ East Anderson Island.
Russ East 10/21/21 2:59 PM After further reading the policy goals of 90% farebox recovery and establishing a capital fund out farebox collections I find this proposal totally inconsistent with fair taxation and reasonable management of the ferry system. As a former executive director with Washington State Ferries I can tell you that no other ferry system in the world recovers any meaningful capital cost from the farebox. Raising rates 3 fold in 8 years will kill ridership and growth on the island, making your projections for increased growth a moot point. In fact if you look at the fare increases from WSF in the early 2000’s you will see a marked decrease in ridership. It wasn’t until fares stabilized did they see more ridership increase. Today WSF charges 25 cents per ticket for capital, with the legislature using gas tax funds and grants for capital. The county should do the same. The notion of 90% farebox recovery is ludicrous. Pierce transit, King County Metro and a host of transit systems typically recover 10-20% from farebox for operations and maintenance… not capital. All in all, this is not a well thought out plan. As a public service, the council should be ashamed to even give this any consideration. Please reject this proposal as unrealistic and a penalty on those who live and own property on Anderson Island.
Thomas McCarthy 10/21/21 5:04 PM The stated policy goal is NOT to increase service, but to reduce support from county road funds from 60% to 10%, a draconian shift of costs of citizens who already pay county taxes. The ferry IS our road. When a 5-pack of car tickets increases from $73 to $232 in 8 short years, there is a cascade of impacts on a majority fixed income demographic, not to mention running working commuters off island. It is already difficult to get trades people to visit the island now. But the biggest reason why this is short-sighted is that this brutal 15.5% increase year after year will dramatically drop property values...which will have the unforeseen consequence of reducing county property tax revenue making this ordinance self-defeating. This is a brutally unjust proposal that with hurt many fixed income and working families, and the policy premise should be denounced and rejected. What if Pierce Transit raised its fares to cover 90% of costs? This proposal should be dramatically scaled back in line with historic costs, which has been more aligned the fare cost recovery of Washington State Ferries.
Jacob Anderson 10/21/21 5:20 PM Anderson Island is a distinctly working class and fixed-income community compared to other islands in Washington. This 15.5% per year fare increase for eight years would be a disaster for families on the Island. Anderson Island benefits hardly at all from Pierce Transit or other county-funded projects. It would be significantly more reasonable to have a gradual reduction in the road fund subsidy to be similar to that of the Washington State ferries, around 30%-40%, than 10%.
Candace Cragg 10/21/21 6:09 PM I am completely opposed to this proposal as it stands. There is definitely a need For more ferry runs during the Summer peak months and many of us islanders are willing to pay a reasonable increase for better service. The yearly 15.5% year over year for the next eight is not sustainable for the average home owner here on the island. Folks commute to work, and our elderly must get to their medical appointments. Would the county be willing to provide free or low-cost parking close to the ferry so islanders could reduce their cost by maintaining a car on the steilacoom side and walking on the ferry? Or Would the county be willing to provide a significant discount to Island residents? Please consider the median income of island residents.. This would be a significant hardship to working families and senior citizens. Thank you for your consideration.
elizabeth engle 10/21/21 6:32 PM 15.5% per year for eight years totals 317%. You may save the ferry, but you'll destroy the island community. Few will be able to afford daily ferry service, so commuting for work will diminish. Services like deliveries and the trades likely won't come to the island because it's not cost effective. Medical appts, food shopping, and getting high school kids to mainland schools will be very difficult to afford. If one can't live affordably on the island, who will buy there? Property values will suffer. I can't support this plan.
Linda Wilczak 10/22/21 9:18 AM Proposed Ordinance 2021-102 While I understand the need to increase ferry rates to some extent, the extrapolation of these increases out over 8 years is ridiculous. This will force many Islanders, including myself, to sell their property. My partner and I commute 5 days a week, and those increases will result in us spending almost $2000 a month just to get on and off the island to go to work. The retired on the Island will not be able to afford that increase either. This ordinance will absolutely trash property values, and force people to leave. I do not believe that those kinds of increases are in anyone's interests. It's my understanding that the goal is to have the ferry funded 90% through fares, which is unfair, as no other road in the county is treated this way. Please consider that, and explore other ways of funding besides massive increases in fares.
Linda Dugger 10/22/21 9:51 AM Incremental ferry fare increases are expected. This proposal is excessive. No need to study passenger ferry—our ferries have plenty of walk-on capacity. But the county needs to work on parking on the Steilacoom side.
Paul Dugger 10/22/21 10:05 AM This proposal was written without any input from Anderson Island residents. The timeline is extremely truncated. This proposal is an extreme departure from status quo. If represents a change in philosophy regarding ferry financing.
Dana Stirn 10/22/21 10:05 AM While an increase to ticket prices was anticipated, the proposed +15.5% each year for the next EIGHT years is completely unreasonable. The compounding cost increase amounts to over 300% vs. current, which will financially crush islanders. Moving to an "over 90%" farebox recovery rate is not in line with other ferry or public transportation systems. Additionally, the speed toward decisions and lack of presented data, research, consulting, etc. on impact (outside of PC saving road fund money) for a change of this magnitude is extremely concerning. I respectfully ask that the appropriate representatives reject the proposal in favor of determining a sensible and moderated alternative strategy.
Gaea Scott 10/22/21 10:59 AM Please do not support the proposed ordiance regarding increases in ferry rates. Many of the current full-time residents of Anderson Island are working families or retired seniors. Most are not among the upper class, and some rely on services from our gov’t agencies to keep our selves well and our families fed. The proposed increases over a span of 8 years would cause many of us to have to choose between selling our homes because we would no longer be able to afford the ferry rates, or leave jobs that we need because daily rides would be impossibly expensive. Increases are needed in some cases, but this large increase over a short period of time would be life changing for many of us. I have a family of 4 children ages 5-12 years old. We would be forced to relocate, likely by 2025, because the rates proposed would make it impossible to get to doctors visits, grocery trips, and other necessary trips off of the island. With the current economic climate, and that changing landscape, we should not be threatened with drastic changes that could negatively impact our daily living. We are in support of making changes that mean better service and better resources for those employed under the ferry service, but this ordinance is asking residents to carry too great of a financial burden for a service that the county and state should be providing. With increases these high, the already limited resources we have, for commercial contractors and needed service providers, the few that come to the island would likely determine the cost too high to serve our island.
Belen Schneider 10/22/21 11:13 AM The long-term impacts of this proposal are staggering to consider for island residents. No one is proposing that Pierce Transit pays for 90% of its operation with fares, and this ferry is our ROAD. If the rates are increased by 15.5% annually for 8 years, this island cannot support working families, anyone who commutes, seniors on fixed incomes, or anyone who is not upper middle class. You are proposing that in 8 years, a commuter will go from paying roughly $3,670 annually for a commuter pass to $11,623 - and that doesn't account for any other commuting costs...it's just the upcharge for using a ferry. I expect my county council to propose and execute solutions that are FAIR to all constituents. Pricing my community's ROAD out of the reach of many residents is not an answer.
Laura Johnston-Mack 10/22/21 12:31 PM I vehemently oppose this proposal. The projected fare increases will devastate our community. There are retirees on fixed incomes, families with children and commuters who live on this island. Everyone will be negatively impacted. Many of us agree and understand that ferry rates need to increase. However, asking us to bear a 15.5% increase annually over the next 8 years is appalling. By the time these increases go into effect, the people who use this ferry system will end up paying more than those who use the state ferry system, which is planning rate increases of 2.5%. This almost feels literally like highway robbery, because the ferry is our lifeline (our "road," if you will) to the rest of the county and the state. I believe most people this past summer simply wanted the two-boat system we've come to rely on during weekends to work. From what I understand, the cancelled runs were due to staffing. What is the company who manages the staff doing to retain them? The island population is growing, which will increase revenue simply by volume. A 15.5% increase annually is just simply outrageous. There has got to be a better, more reasonable solution than what is proposed.
Rachelle Benbow 10/22/21 12:35 PM County ferry tickets should be comparable with state ferry ticket prices for comparable distance routes. The increases proposed are too high over the time period. A one time 15% hike I could see based on historic ticket prices and inflation but not multiple years.
Ingrid Steele 10/22/21 1:15 PM As taxpayers we all fund services that we may or may not use in Pierce County. For example there are roads I will never drive on, schools I will never attend and so forth but we share the common burden. When Pierce County took on the ferry they knew it would always need to be heavily subsidized as most county services are. To decide at this point to place a disproportionate load on a small group of county residents who literally have no other access options is like hostage taking. Many islanders are on fixed incomes and I don’t know anyone who sees their incomes rise at 15% per year. This proposal is targeted and unfair and I urge you to reconsider.
Susan Kuehne 10/22/21 1:16 PM I vehemently oppose this proposal. The projected fare increases will devastate our community. There are retirees on fixed incomes, families with children and commuters who live on this island. Everyone will be negatively impacted. Many of us agree and understand that ferry rates need to increase. However, asking us to bear a 15.5% increase annually over the next 8 years is appalling. By the time these increases go into effect, the people who use this ferry system will end up paying more than those who use the state ferry system, which is planning rate increases of 2.5%. This almost feels literally like highway robbery, because the ferry is our lifeline (our "road," if you will) to the rest of the county and the state. I believe most people this past summer simply wanted the two-boat system we've come to rely on during weekends to work. From what I understand, the cancelled runs were due to staffing. What is the company who manages the staff doing to retain them? The island population is growing, which will increase revenue simply by volume. A 15.5% increase annually is just simply outrageous. There has got to be a better, more reasonable solution than what is proposed.
Wendy Walker 10/22/21 3:11 PM Roads, bridges and tunnels are not paid for by residents. Why should the ferry be different. This proposal is an abdication of the counties responsibility. If residents are eventually going to pay 90% of the cost we would be better off paying 100% and taking full control of the system.
Jill Aschendorf 10/22/21 3:13 PM The proposed ferry increases are unacceptable. This rates doubles in 4-5 years and triples in 8. I understand the need to increase fares to cover staffing and scheduling but this will take many off the island simply because they cannot afford the ticket price. I say No
Tyler Van 10/22/21 4:10 PM You guys are really something, how can you propose a 15+ percent rate increase and more every year! You should be fired or publicly shamed for thinking you should do a rate increase! How is it that with ridership at full capacity (that means revenue is rolling in more so than ever!) more homes being built on the island creating even more revenue from property tax increases because of structures etc that every bit of the build was taxed from the permits to all the materials and labor etc. then you cut ferry runs all the time, canceled the two boat service all summer, don’t give a shit if it takes 4 hours to get home to the island because every boat is at capacity, again creating tons of revenue! I could see if rider ship was down and property values were down or going down but NO, a starter home is $350k-500k (all taxed) and the boats are fuller than ever!!!!!!!! All that is a huge revenue increase that was not expected!!! How the fuck can you even think of raising rates? If anything rates should go down!!! You guys are a charade! Totally unacceptable and greedy ass government taking advantage & forcing higher and higher taxes/ public transportation rates when you have more ridders and revenue coming in than ever before! On top of that the service has gotten worse and the county has done nothing but cut services! WTF? Some nerve you guys have. Have a fucked day!
Dan Heltsley 10/22/21 4:34 PM The proposed ferry fare increase for the Anderson Island/Ketron ferry is totally out of line and would place an extreme hardship on the residents of both islands. Considering that the ferry service has declined dramatically recently the idea of increasing fares so drastically is ridiculous. During July and August alone more than 50 trips were cancelled during peak season. To have our fares increase so much for a service that has declined simply adds insult to injury. Please consider a more fair proposal that will not impact the residents of both islands in such a severe manner. Thank you for considering our request.
Michael Downing 10/22/21 5:55 PM This is just too high of burden to place on owners on Anderson and Ketron Islands. These costs need to be spread out throughout the County. My wife and I are absolutely shocked!
Jeremy Russell 10/22/21 6:26 PM Me and my having been living on the Island full time since 2018. And we enjoy living here for the beauty and quietness of the Island. We both work off Island and ride the ferry everyday. The current proposal for raising ferry fares seems extreme and would create financial hardship and would discourage more full time workers from living here and would probably force us to move. Thank you, Jeremy Russell
Mary Chaffee 10/22/21 6:30 PM This proposal would be devastating to the island population. I lived on Anderson Island for 20 years. The majority of island residents are on tight budgets, and have chosen to live out there due to the low cost of living. For individuals commuting to the mainland for work, the proposed staggering monthly commuter cost of over $1000 would be prohibitive.
kristan kennedy 10/22/21 7:18 PM It’s a hardship on locals. The burden needs to be more on weekend tourists (single vehicle ticket prices) and commercial vehicles. The value pass should increase 10% every 2 years. Also, hours need to change to accommodate school hours.
John McNally 10/22/21 7:34 PM How does this proposed fare increase support the seniors on fixed income on the island? These rapid- fire increases would force me out of my retirement home here on AI. Hugely unfair and provocative proposed action !!!
Lori Prisco 10/22/21 7:50 PM This absolutely the most irresponsible and insensitive proposition during a period of unemployment and wild inflation.
Russ East 10/22/21 7:50 PM Jani, I don’t recall if I sent this comment your way. A bit less hot, but should be a consideration. 1. The time limit for using the value pass should be extended to 90 days to allow regular, but infrequent users to utilize the pass without losing 1 or 2 trips due to expiration. 2. There should be a discounted value pass for Seniors. The current pricing does not give any benefit to Seniors, and also penalizes us if we travel infrequently. Thank you. Russ East Anderson Island.
Christine Carter 10/22/21 8:04 PM The yearly percentage increase over 8 years is absolutely unaffordable for Islanders. There are no alternatives for transportation and no user group pays so much of the bill for public transportation on top of their taxes.
Tyler Van 10/22/21 8:09 PM You guys are really something, how can you propose a 15+ percent rate increase and more every year! You should be fired for thinking you should do a rate increase! How is it that with ridership at full capacity (that means revenue is rolling in more so than ever!) more homes being built on the island creating even more revenue from property tax increases because of structures etc that every bit of the build was taxed from the permits to all the materials and labor etc. then you cut ferry runs all the time, canceled the two boat service all summer, don’t give a shit if it takes 4 hours to get home to the island because every boat is at capacity, again creating tons of revenue! I could see if rider ship was down and property values were down or going down but NO, a starter home is $350k-500k (all taxed) and the boats are fuller than ever!!!!!!!! All that is a huge revenue increase that was not expected!!! How the fuck can you even think of raising rates? If anything rates should go down!!! You guys are a charade! Totally unacceptable and greedy ass government taking advantage & forcing higher and higher taxes/ public transportation rates when you have more ridders and revenue coming in than ever before! On top of that the service has gotten worse and the county has done nothing but cut services! Maybe you government workers should take a 15% pay cut Or make sure every taxpayer gets 15% wage increase as all you do is increase our taxes and with price of everything increasing heavily and taxes based on percentages is only adding up taxes in government favor. I strongly object to this Proposed Ordinance 2021-102.  You give us almost no notice & no vote on the issue, we are force to pay more when we get less. WTF? Some nerve you guys have.
Cherrie DeRay 10/22/21 8:10 PM The proposal for rate hikes for Pierce County Ferries is rediculously high and extreme over the proposed time frame. I do NOT support this idea.
Nina mesihovic 10/22/21 8:21 PM While I understand the need for progress and movement forward, this increase is simply too much. Do it, but do it in smaller increments. And have the rest of the County pay for it as well. It is only fair.
Joseph Jensen 10/22/21 8:30 PM The new ferry rates are outrageous & I suggest you reconsider what it is you are doing considering what you done since our island has born the brunt of costs associated with 2 ferries over the last 15 years.
JONATHAN ROMERO 10/22/21 8:56 PM I have several issues w/the fare hike & oppose the drastic increases. 1) I'm on a fixed income & hikes will negatively affect my budget for food, medicines, Dr. Visits, maintenance of our home & expenses we incur caring for my mother-in-law(88 yrs.) who lives w/us for almost half of each month. 2) I will not be able to afford going to a p/t job on the mainland. 3) Ferry Customer service is fine, why waste $$ when it doesn't need improvement. 4) County mismanages(wastes) funds by gifting Hornblower a contract that hasn't provided the people here on AI fine/reliable service. 4) I feel ripped off by paying peak fares, when there weren't double boats running. Refund? 5)I didn't notice a Senior discount, make sure Srs. (half of AI) get a DISCOUNT! 6) Why isn't there a resident discount, as well? Institute one please. 7) Working families & younger people will leave(like 3 families I know personally), thus making it harder for us Srs. to get needed help w/chores, repairs, etc. 8) Our real estate values will go down, we will lose equity & it will be much harder & take longer to sell. 9) why hasn't Whomever has been in charge looked into getting more Federal & state funding? This has been shortsighted! 10) Why are current residents being picked on for the County's lack of imagination, poor planning, faulty judgement, & poor negotiating skills. It Doesn't seem fair to make people lose $$ for retirement & have their investments dwindle! We are not rich, I fear some of us will become poor. 11) Changing schedules & eliminating runs will cause havoc & great inconvenience for my family. Many others feel the same. The stress is already setting in. We shouldn't be burdened w/increases
Sharifa Ali 10/22/21 10:44 PM Seriously? There is a decline in service and you're RAISING ferry rates? How about give us the two ferry runs that we were promised? How about not leaving all of Lane three behind because you're running late, when previously you have been known to take at least six if not more cars? How about maximizing efficiency? How about ensuring the ferry's aren't constantly breaking down?
Sally Kim 10/22/21 11:22 PM The proposed 15.5% increases in 2022 and 2023 to ferry fare will put undue hardship on islanders who need to commute off island for work.
Kim Tate 10/23/21 5:00 AM I do not agree with your proposal.
Robert Tate 10/23/21 5:03 AM I do not agree to the proposal of increasing the ferry fees.
Dana Gerstlauer 10/23/21 5:32 AM The proposed price increase, while manageable the first year, quickly becomes cost prohibitive for the people living on Anderson Island. With no medical service on the Island, we must travel to the mainland for all appointments, shopping, etc. It's a necessity. The majority of us are seniors living on a fixed income. An increase like this would force us to move. We suggest building a parking garage in Steilacoom so that a car could be parked there and we could walk on the ferry rather than drive. The lack of parking in Steilacoom makes it difficult to do this currently.
Dawn Atkission 10/23/21 6:27 AM Proposed Ordinance No. 2021-102 Ridership over the last few years has been up resulting in no need to increase fares. This proposal is too much too quickly for a mostly senior community to afford creating financial hardship and the inability to have affordable access to the necessities of life, food doctors family, etc. Though a fare increase may be warranted, a smaller percentage over longer time span would be more logical. Thank you for your time.
Laurie Keele 10/23/21 10:38 AM This proposal will only make problems worse it only will serve the wealthy or upper class the middle class will be wiped off the island it’ll be invaded by wealthy people and some of us won’t be able to afford to live here anymore. So those who want to have their temporary rental and make money from the island, would once again prevail and it will no longer be the small quiet retirement community it always has been but yet another win for capitalist. Our “ ferry experience “ is just fine as is thank you!
Serena Frank 10/23/21 10:41 AM The proposed ferry rate increase is unacceptable. It will destroy life on Anderson Island as we know it. Some of us cannot afford to move onto the mainland. So we're stranded if we can't afford tickets? Stop this prpoposal.
Susan Krajewski 10/23/21 11:04 AM This proposal is unfair to the residents of Anderson Island. There are many retirees, myself included, on fixed incomes who couldn't afford to leave the island with these increases. I would like to think that a compromise could be reached with the goal of a fair price to all and the county meeting it's required needs.
Bryan Dainty 10/23/21 11:22 AM Although I agree fares need to increase to cover increased operational costs and support fair wages for ferry workers this proposal goes too far. I'm supportive of a significant increase this year and more modest increases in the future but continuing 15% increases each year for 8 years is an extreme change that most people would not be able to afford.
Debbie 10/23/21 11:50 AM Unaffordable
Dale Porterfield 10/23/21 12:27 PM With this proposed rate increase you will force middle income families and seniors to move off the island. Using fares to more completely fund the service will not work. All it will do is create hardship on current riders.
Nori Hashibe 10/23/21 5:20 PM As we make transition to electric cars and trucks in the very near future, it may help to send a message to the islanders and the ferry users to use their smaller cars for a routine / daily ferry rides, by having 18 feet and under class. VW Beetles are only 15 feet long, a half of a foot print, compared to popular pick up trucks. This idea has been discussed many times in the previous ferry meetings. By doing so, the ferry can carry more cars. This will help to prevent the large numbers of “left overs" Living in a country, we all have trucks, but we must try to use only when it is really necessary. By establishing 18 feet and under size as the starting price, instead of 22 feet, and keeping the present fees unchanged for this class, we can encourage mentality shift. And 22 feet class might move to the higher and new ride fee schedule as proposed. Time is changing in effort to leave a cleaner / livable earth to our children. The E.U. has voted to do away with gasoline engines altogether within certain time. Follow their lead.
John Towers 10/23/21 6:14 PM The ferry fee increase is totally out of line. The majority of the full time islanders are retired. This would push many out of their homes and end up leaving the island only for the rich. What are our property taxes being used for instead?? We've already had money stolen from the island fund to build a boondoggle roundabout. Where are your heads? Increase visitor ferry fees and monitor and tax vacation rentals if necessary but leave full-time residents alone. A 5% increase would be more in line but 15.5% yearly is robbery. There needs to be some benefit for our full-time tax payments.
Charles Granoski, Jr. 10/23/21 9:53 PM For all the reasons set out in the AICAB response, I strenuously object to the excessive fare increases for Pierce County Ferry.
Robert steele 10/23/21 10:10 PM The proposed ferry cost increases need to be at par with other similar cost increases for other ferry services. These cost increases will cripple the year round residences that need to utilize the ferry services on a daily basis.
Amy Reagan 10/24/21 8:52 AM Dear Pierce County Council, Holy cow, this rate increase due to poor budget management by Pierce County (PC) is absurd and burdensome to many of our island residents. I hope you are hearing from many islanders and property owners. It’s unfathomable to think that Pierce County had little to no capital planning funding in their budget to reserve for major maintenance and ferry replacement. I’m not so sure just raising the rates over 15% next year and the year after is a solid plan. I think it may deter ferry usage thus lowering revenue. I would think PC wants to see MORE ridership and by increasing the rates, I believe it will reduce it. If ridership would increase by keeping the rates lower, it would better fund the capital budget and be more palatable. I don’t feel we are being given any choice or input in this matter either. Maybe I missed a town hall on this topic. While I despise any idea to increase to property taxes, was there any discussion by the Council to enact a small increase? Let’s say $0.02 per $1000 assessed value? That at least affects the valuation of our real property. While I don’t like to see any increase in my property taxes, it is alternate source of revenue. So, here are some ideas to consider: • Ferry Rate increase of 7% • Property tax increase of $0.02 per $1000 assessed value • Revisit Ferry District as proposed in Waterborne Transportation Study Respectfully, Amy Reagan Anderson Island Resident
Amy Reagan 10/24/21 8:55 AM Dear Pierce County Council, I’ve sent you one email yesterday and since then I have learned that during a recent meeting an EIGHT year fare proposal was recommended, BUT your Ordinance only mentions 2-years. Which is it? Also given that this is a 15% plus increase each year, this is far over any COLA increase most employees or retirees would even get if they are lucky enough to receive COLA or SSA hikes. What you are proposing is that ferry riders dip into any discretionary funds they might have to be able to commute on/off island, whether they are still working or retired. Anderson Island is one of the few remaining housing options for low to middle income taxpayers to afford rents or buy homes. If one of the strategies in Pierce County is to commit to affordable housing, I don’t see how a 15% increase in fare supports the concept. Islanders believe in supporting the maintenance and upkeep of our ferries as we know it is our lifeline to/from the mainland. Do you really think a 15% hike in fare is reasonable? Please explain how there has been no capital investments made up to now? Has there been an audit of reserve funds paid out on behalf of the ferry system? Your proposal is to try and make up the shortfalls by a very large increase. Why do you feel trickling down the lack of funds to the ferry-goers is an amicable or just solution for Budget mismanagement? In the private sector we would be firing someone! Please vote ‘No’ and demand for more transparency on the management of past income, capital funds and re-examine the ideas I mentioned in my prior email: • Ferry Rate increase of 7% • Property tax increase of $0.02 per $1000 assessed value • Revisit Ferry District as proposed in Waterborne Transportation Study Sincerely, Amy Reagan
Stephen M. Fore 10/24/21 9:12 AM I am writing to strongly disagree with the proposal to increase the Pierce County (Anderson Island) fare by 15.5% annually for the next 8 years. While modest fee increases should reasonably reflect inflationary pressures on fuel, labor, etc.and capital investments, this proposal appears to be significantly dramatic and places an undue hardship on the mostly low-moderate and fixed (retirement) income community of Anderson Island. Currently, a retired couple who takes the ferry twice a week, for medical, entertainment and shopping purposes, spends approximately $2,475 annually for the ferry services. Under the new proposal, the price will increase to $7,848 (by 2029). For this typical family (75K per year), who will realize a $4,875(6.5%)increase in Social Security for CY 2022, most of the income benefit will be absorbed by the ferry fees alone. That is completely unsustainable for much of our island community. As stated above, I feel that most of the cost burden has been unfairly shifted to the current island residents. One way to alleviate the full time resident liability would be to apply a moderate (5%) increase in the fee structure during non-peak periods and 10% during peak periods (residents). For non-residents, 20% during non-peak periods and 40-50% during peak periods. Since non-resident peak numbers increase the island population by approximately 25% (1,100 to 1,400) a significant non-resident, peak period increase would seem appropriate. Similar revenue "visitor" strategies have been successfully employed elsewhere, e.g., Seattle. Thank you for your consideration, Stephen and Tracie Fore
Bridgid Nelson 10/24/21 11:48 AM Stop this crazy increase now! A reasonable increase should be expected to mirror cost of living increase, but this increase will render living on the island impossible for even the wealthiest among us.
Ann and Troy Prater 10/24/21 11:59 AM Dear sir/madam: We are writing to express our extreme surprise and opposition to this ferry rate increase proposal. We moved to Anderson Island one year ago to retire, after careful consideration of the cost-of-living in communities across the Pacific Northwest. We are living on fixed-incomes, as are the majority of the people on this island. Increasing ferry rates would decimate our economy by forcing many people like us to move and housing prices/tax revenue to decrease. Or, it would fuel rapid gentrification of this community, creating a place where only the wealthy could live. Either future state is unacceptable. While we expect moderate ferry increases over time, relying on ferry fares to cover the capital costs of the system is fool hardy and unsustainable. Significant building is occurring on the island now, increasing tax revenue and ferry revenue — has the impact of these increases been considered? Other revenue sources could include an allocation from pending federal infrastructure funds or CARES funding. We request your help to soundly defeat this budget proposal. Thank you for your service and for listening to our concerns. Sincerely, Ann and Troy Prater
LEWIS DAVIDSON 10/24/21 12:02 PM "a Ferry Budget proposal that included a 15.5% increase on ticket prices per year for the next 8 or more years. The County’s stated rationale is twofold: decreasing the ferry subsidy from the road fund from 60% currently to 10% at the end of eight years, and establishing a fund to pay for replacing the ferry and other infrastructure which will be needed in the future." There must be a better way to accomplish this. For the most part this will require people to move since they will not longer be able to afford this area. Maybe something in line with the Washington state ferry system. Please do the math and see what a ticket increase will cost each year. Looking forward to the budget meetings in Tacoma.
Holly Tsur 10/24/21 12:03 PM I own an Anderson Island lot on 101st Street Ct and am extremely opposed to the proposed ferry rate hikes that I see as extremely excessive. Tripling them within such a short time period will make it even harder on island dwellers, most of whom are trying to survive on retirement incomes during a time of rapidly rising inflation. Personally, I purchased my lot for speculative purposes in 2000. I had hoped that, by now, I could sell my lot for at least a small profit since I bought it for $2300. As things are, buying the lot was an extremely poor investment because yearly Riviera Community dues have risen to more than $700 since I bought the lot. Not only have these annual dues cut severely into my long-term potential for profiting from my investment, they've made my lot harder to sell. Finally, due to higher real estate values for the first time since the Great Recession, my lot's value has reached a level where I was getting ready to sell it so I could at least come close to breaking even. But, selling it will now be likely next to impossible if ferry fees are quickly doubled and then tripled within a few years. No doubt this proposal will have a strong effect on values of *all* properties on Anderson Island because their values are tied so closely to the cost of ferry crossings. Not only that, falling property values will also have an effect on Pierce County revenues. So, please consider these factors. Sincerely, Holly L. Tsur
Susan Fountain 10/24/21 12:05 PM This ferry increase proposal is unsatisfactory. Those of us who live on Anderson Island would be crippled by this increase. Many of us are on a fixed income and would be hughly impacted. This will distroy growth and impact our property values.The ferry service has been unsatisfactory since covid. Paying more for less is not okay
Erica Cameron 10/24/21 12:58 PM Pierce County just spent over $400,000 earmarked for service improvements to Anderson Island on a roundabout in Steilacoom that has nothing to do with Anderson Island!!! And now wants to raise fees on the ferry system which is the lifeline of our community!!! Are you kidding me!!! Why wasnt the money spent on the ferries??? Taxing Anderson Island now after you wasted our money in another community would be a criminal act. The governor needs to hear about this!!!!
Crystal East 10/24/21 1:02 PM This increase would be an extreme burden to the residents of Anderson Island. Many people moved to the island do the COULD retire. We are being forced out of the cities by the high cost of living. It’s vital to be able to leave the island for medical appointments. Please reconsider this proposed highly unfair fare increase. Thank you.
Jessica Wiggins 10/24/21 1:04 PM A 15.5% per year fare increase for eight years is not sustainable for the majority of Anderson Island residents. The current proposal gives no manageable solutions for residents such as more parking options in steilacoom and or discounts for commuters. I urge that this proposal be postponed until other solutions are explored.
Michele and Mark Stanfield 10/24/21 2:49 PM To whom it may concern: As retired residents of Anderson Island we strongly oppose the new ferry proposal. The fee of the ferry now is very expensive and you’re proposing to triple that rate over the next few years. How would you like to pay $30-60 every time you had to leave the island? The fee is unreasonable, and we ask you to block this proposal with all the passion you can muster. It is not fair for our residents. Sincerely, Michele and Mark Stanfield
Hayley J Mazzeo 10/24/21 4:40 PM This is way to expensive and not realistic
Penne L Wilson 10/24/21 6:00 PM This proposal will drastically affect the population on their island many of whom are retired and on fixed incomes. This will endanger their ability to travel to doctors appointments and other services off island and it will directly impact the services that companies bring to the island. It has the potential to double costs for having septic tanks serviced or repairs made to homes. It will increase the cost of fuel delivery and make gasoline and propane unaffordable for most islanders and make it difficult for the general store to provide goods at affordable prices. This proposal in effect will make living on the island where we have found peace and a supporting and caring community impossible for most. There are government infrastructure grants and multiple other ways to improve ferry service. This proposal will irreparably impact the island and its dwellers.
Douglas Kuehne 10/24/21 6:40 PM We have owned and paid taxes on our Anderson Island home for over 30 years. We made our permanent move for retirement in March of this year. We are currently completing an extensive remodel. We carefully planned and budgeted for living on the island. No where in our planning did we figure in the excessive ferry fare rate increases being proposed. We understand necessary increases but this far exceeds any reasonable expectation. We strongly object to this proposed ordinance. If approved, we will be looking in to selling our property and relocating to somewhere more affordable for retired community members on a fixed income. So disappointed that a lifetime goal may now be a bad dream.
Jerome stallman 10/24/21 6:50 PM This proposal must be some kind of joke. Was it even thought through? It’s already a significant amount that each of us pay out for the service. As it stands sometime it takes over 2 hrs to even get on or off the island. Is service going to improve? We need more options. Maybe we need our own foot ferry and a taxi service. If this goes through I know I may have to make some drastic changes myself.
Shanae Bezusko 10/24/21 7:15 PM I honestly cannot believe that I have to comment on this proposal because I find it hard to fathom that honest, constituent-focused leaders actually think this is a feasible idea for the people who reside on Anderson Island. Yet here we are. 1) The timing of this proposal is very shaky and looks underhanded; this was presented to us BARELY a month before the council is considering this. Why were the actual residents of Anderson Island not given any notice or opportunity to offer input on this proposal that impacts us? 2) It also appears discriminatory against rural residents - the county makes the statement that supporting the cost of the ferry at the current level is "unsustainable". You know what else is more unsustainable, bus fares that only support 9.5% of Pierce Transit costs. How would incorporated Pierce county constituents respond if the County suddenly DEMANDED that the riders cover 90% of the costs with increased fares. However, because we are rural and unincorporated, the county is trying to take advantage of our marginalized position. 3) The affordability of the fares. It is so egregious...the county is not even pretending to care about the livelihood of island residents. In what reality is ANY 5 trip car pass from 2024 on affordable? Especially for those with a fixed income? 4) It is already extremely difficult to get services to come to the island, what do you think this price hike will do to our ability to have such tradespeople as roofers, electricians, chimney sweeps, duct cleaners, HVAC, etc come to the island? This list goes on and on. Not to mention UPS and FedEx. 5) There is another service this will undoubtedly be affected, healthcare providers and services. This is so important for many of our residents it deserves to be separate. In case you are not aware, healthcare service providers have the right to eliminate zip codes from their service area if providing services is too much of a hardship on their employees. So do you really think hospice, palliative care, personal care providers (who make on average $20/hour) will continue to service the island after these ridiculous price hikes? So now this legislation you are proposing is not just affecting our ability to acquire basic needs, it is going to affect our ability to actually live. 6) Why the urgency for Pierce county to break its historic commitment to support the ferry with county road funds? The ferry IS our road!! 7) There is absolutely no transparency as to why this is so rushed and so astronomically unaffordable that I question what the real reason for wanting to impose such a price hike. It is understandable to raise costs REASONABLY since they have not been raised for 5 years, but this proposal is beyond understanding. 8) At this time I work from home and get most items delivered such as meals, food, medication, most toiletries, pretty much all household goods because that works better for my family than leaving the island 2-3 times/week for grocery shopping. So if FedEx, UPS, and USPS see these prices and decide to reduce services to the island, you have now cut off my family's access to basic needs. This proposal is completely asinine and blind to the needs of the residents. If this passes we will promptly put our home on the market and there's actually no reason for us to stay in Pierce County or WA period for that matter. However the ability to sell and property value of all island residents will likely be affected because no one will want to live here because of these prices. It is my hope that every council member is reading this and your conscience is affected now that you've heard from us. Because conscience and concern for your fellow human beings clearly was not a factor when this proposal was being created.
Susan Cunningham 10/24/21 7:45 PM Dear Honored Pierce County Councilors, I would like to comment on the proposal to raise the cost of the Steilacoom-Anderson Island by 15.5%, compounded annually for 8 years. I was completely taken aback that an increase of this magnitude, and for a duration of 8 years, is even being considered. The adverse financial impact on the vast majority of Anderson Island residents, including my husband and I who are seniors with fixed incomes, would be devastating, with a capital D. The trade-off of a proposed upgrade of services such as more ferries, reservations, etc. is laughable. Do you recall that only 1 weekend in 2021 had 2 ferry service on Friday and Sunday despite the promise by Pierce County to add additional ferries to the summer schedule? My position is that NO increase in services that would justify Pierce County completely reneging on its historic use of highway funds to help subsidize ferry transportation to and from Anderson Island. THE FERRY IS OUR HIGHWAY! It is how we connect with vital mainland services like medical, dental, and grocery stores. This ferry is our ONLY option for transportation to the mainland and it needs to remain affordable for all users. When I take one of the early morning ferries to Steilacoom, I am amazed at the broad spectrum of passengers of all ages who share the ride with me. I invite you to do the same. Many, many rely on this ferry to commute to their jobs; island purveyors and tradespeople head over to the mainland to work and restock on the mainland; students of all ages are headed to school, and island visitors are returning to their homes. Raising fares as steeply as proposed would adversely affect ALL residents, not to mention those people and tradespeople who travel each day from Steilacoom to work on the island or make deliveries. ALL depend on maintaining a reliable, AFFORDABLE ferry system. With this ticket increase, Island residents will be in jeopardy of losing the many services we depend upon because it may be just too expensive for companies to do business on Anderson Island. And THAT is LOST tax revenue for Pierce County!!! I am not apposed to a raise in the ferry tickets in 2022 and would even agree to the 15.5% for this year ONLY. But please! Go back to the drawing board. Work with your constituents and the resident liaison board from Anderson Island and create a viable plan that will not bankrupt the citizens you are honored to represent. DO NOT renege on Pierce County’s historical use of road funds to operate the ferry, which by the way, includes ISLANDERS’ TAXES. And PLEASE, reconsider the financial implications the proposed steep increase of close to a decade of compounded rates would have on EVERY SINGLE PERSON AND COMPANY who use this ferry. The magnitude of this increase would not be sustainable for any of us. I truly believe you can do better than this. Respectfully, Susan Cunningham
Dan Wheeler 10/24/21 8:02 PM This ordinance would have the effect of making Anderson island only affordable for those independently wealthy. Surely that is not the intent of the council. I fully support the proposals advanced by AICAB, with the understanding that fees need to be more realistic to both support the ferry system and to not place this extremely heavy burden on the people who commute to work from the island. I appreciate the work which has gone into the process, but since roads on the island are considered county rights of way, the county is required by law to maintain access to them. Few if any of the smaller communities fully fund the roads in their own geographic location, and indeed, depend on support from the county fund to maintain access. Raising the fares so drastically and rapidly creates a discriminatory imbalance, one which would actually reduce income from fares as people would move off, sell properties, and would result in a net loss to the county if this shortsighted ordinance is implemented. Please consider the hardships this ordinance would place on the constituents on Anderson Island. They and I would appreciate consideration of a more balanced and affordable approach.
Dawn Roberts 10/24/21 8:29 PM Hello, I've lived on AI for 2 yrs now. We recently bought our home. I commute daily and if the price of the ferry goes up as is proposed I will not be able to stay I will not be able to afford it. I also know quite a few older residents on fixed incomes who frequent the mainland for doctors visits and have a fixed income. We as an island will also lose the income from non islanders coming to the island. This will greatly impact our store, restaurant, and others who may rely the extra income to get by. I hope you consider these items before making your decision. I Love my new forever home and do not want to leave. Thank you for your time and consideration Dawn Roberts Anderson Island Resident
Vernal Wilkinson 10/24/21 8:30 PM While increases maybe needed this radical proposal is counter productive. It will reduce ridership and make it difficult for lower income neighbors to access medical care. It will lower home values and devalue the growing tax base. The proposal lacks some important additions such as available long term parking and increased municipal transportation services.
Scarlett M Shepard 10/25/21 8:54 AM Dear Council Members, As a Pierce County and Anderson Island resident, I strongly oppose the proposal for a fare increase of 15.5% annually for the next eight years as proposed by the Public Works Department, which effectively doubles rates across the board in five years and triples them in eight. I respectfully request that you DO NOT increase the fares as stated in this proposal and find equitable alternatives to the fare increase. We need to ensure that ferry transportation programs for rural and landlocked communities are accessible and affordable, especially for vulnerable Pierce County populations and residents such as seniors, low-income families, and people with disabilities. I appreciate your consideration and hope we can resolve this matter and provide an equitable and sustainable ferry system that benefits residents in need.
Susannah E David 10/25/21 8:55 AM The proposal to triple ferry fares over 8 years poses an incredible hardship on island residents. I am certain, if enacted as proposed, it will result in evicting the majority of lower and middle class residents from Anderson Island. Those who remain will be isolated from the mainland, restricting, for example, our ability to send our children to after-school activities and other cultural events and religious services. In this housing market, we cannot just pick up and move somewhere affordable, if such a place existed nearby which it does not, nor do we wish to do so. I understand that Pierce Transit bus rider fares provide 9% of the bus budget, and WSF fares possibly 60%. Why take this punitive measure that proposes our ferry fares cover 90%? Perhaps the Council is unaware that Anderson Island is a place where families and elderly people live, believing it to be a vacation destination only. Above all, please preserve the current, reasonable walk on passenger fares for commuter tickets,children and seniors. If fare increases must happen, they should be commensurate with inflation, for single use drive on tickets. That would be painful enough for many. Please, offer more commuter pass walk on options for full time residents that enable us to both have shelter and educational and religious activities on the mainland. I know my neighbors will be elaborating on the perceived misuse of County and Federal funds that could have ameliorated the alleged need to raise ticket fares. This includes the CARES act funds and the Anderson Island residents taxes that were used to build the specious Steilacoom roundabout. I know less about the specifics of this (sounds fishy to me, though), and more about how such a proposal would negatively affect my family and community. Island residents will vigorously defend against this proposal, which is discriminatory in nature as it amounts to an eviction of the lower and middle class residents.
Lucas Hedrick 10/25/21 9:13 AM Dear Council members, As a new full time resident of Anderson Island and a person who is employed full-time in Tacoma this measure would financially break me. I already pay a little over $70 weekly to be able to go to work, I bought on Anderson because as a single parent I could find property I could afford in King or Pierce county. I’m glad I did because I love living on the island. This amazing community is mostly white collar and retired older people not high end properties with upper class wages. This hit to the community would be devastating. Property value would go down because nobody could afford to be out here. This would not generate much more income I would just stop driving on the ferry and take my bike or would organize van pools to commute over. Please I consider you look into other ways to promote new income for the Steillacoom Anderson ferry. I am highly opposed to this measure for myself and my community. Sincerely, Lucas A Hedrick
Carol Mastenbrook 10/25/21 9:15 AM Regarding the proposed ferry increase rates. Most people on Anderson Island are retired on fixed incomes or working families. The proposed fare increases are untenable for most people. Additionally, services have been reduced at the same times. I strongly oppose this unjust and punitive fare increase!
Paul Boze 10/25/21 10:05 AM With fuel prices and other costs rising I expected this to happen, not to mention the increase in population in the area and on the island. I remember how many people griped about the new Tacoma Narrows bridge until it was up and found how much safer and easier the commute was.
Lisa Wojtanowicz 10/25/21 11:25 AM I am in disagreement with the proposed ordinance for the following reasons: The proposal is a significant increase over a short timeframe. Increased fares should be consistent with other fees (ie 3 percent per year for permits). The proposal represents unreasonable operational cost recovery. Cost recovery should be comparable to Washington State Ferry Cost recovery at 60 percent. Contributions from Other revenue sources such as the MVFT and the County Road Fund should be increased instead of relying on such a dramatic increase in fares.
Clair Bruggeman 10/25/21 2:05 PM I oppose this draconian proposal for two primary reasons: One, it is based on an unreasonable assumption; namely, that the ferry fares should make up 90% of the ferry operating costs. The ferry is public transportation and no other public transportation is expected to be self-supporting. Is Pierce Transit self-supporting? No, it is overwhelmingly subsidized by the taxpayers. Is the Washington State Ferry self-supporting? No, it is overwhelmingly subsidized by the taxpayers. Is Sound Transit self-supporting? No, it is overwhelmingly subsidized by the taxpayers. Yet, this proposal unrealistically assumes that being self-supporting is a viable option. My second reason for opposing this proposed legislation is that it is fundamentally unfair. Many families bought homes on Anderson Island because housing was more affordable than in Tacoma and Pierce County and they could live in a relatively safe friendly neighborhood. Taking a ferry everyday is not convenient but having a home in a safe nourishing environment is worth the inconvenience. But that does not mean the current cost of commuting is easy. The daily commuter spends nearly $300 a month to take the ferry and there is little or no option to park a car in Steilacoom and walk on every day in order to save on the expense. Under this proposal, the cost for commuters would be over $900 per month. How many people do you know that can afford an additional $600 a month for transportation costs? I assure you, very few families on Anderson Island can afford it yet you propose to impose that burden on them. This legislation is not just fundamentally unfair, it is cruel.
Joe Straub 10/25/21 2:26 PM Good afternoon, I am writing to express my serious concerns regarding the fare increases of 15.5% annually for the next eight years as proposed by the Public Works Department, which effectively doubles rates across the board in five years and triples them in eight. As you know, Anderson Island is predominantly a working family and/or fixed income community with income demographics similar to Pierce County as a whole. I acknowledge and appreciate the fiscal support from Pierce County throughout the years and, as mentioned in the proposed ordinance, the rate structure has not had significant adjustments since 2016. However, I respectfully submit that going from a 40% farebox recovery to 97% in eight years is extreme in both its magnitude – compared to WS Ferries and Pierce Transit, among others – and compressed timeline. I also understand that the County Public Works Department is proposing that these fare increases are needed immediately to establish a capital investment fund to replace vessels and terminals over time. I would strongly advocate the County explore other financing options including long-term bonds to reduce the escalating economic blow on our residents in the immediate future. This would also alleviate some of the basis for such a drastic increase in fares. Under the County’s proposal, two adults taking only one car back and forth to work from Anderson Island 4x a week would see their annual ferry cost rise from $3,615 currently to $11,449 by 2029 using the value commuter pass, and that's assuming they commute together using only one car. Combined cost would be nearly $23k annually if they drove separate. The economic impact of the proposed fare increase would be devastating to your constituents in our small community. In addition, Steilacoom currently lacks adequate transportation options to support passenger-only travel. I understand in the past you have been an advocate for us at the County and note our support from Councilmember Hitchen. I would appreciate your response on the following urgent questions: 1. I understand the primary rationale for the County’s fare increase proposal is to provide for a long-term capital fund. However, according to findings by the State of Washington in its Final Report of the Commission’s Long Term Ferry Study based on long range plans and other data prepared by Washington State Ferries: “Ferry Fares are Not a Viable Source of Capital Funding…. Due to fare elasticity of ferry users, it is unlikely that fares could be raised high enough to fully fund capital needs of the system. Net fare revenues would likely start to decline due to decreasing ridership if fares were raised to the levels necessary to make meaningful contributions to long-term capital financing needs.”i Why would this conclusion be any different for the Pierce County ferry system? I hear from islanders regularly that they would consider moving off the island in the event of this proposed increase. Not to mention second and third order effects of reduced Traffic Impact Fees (TIF) and property taxes that could be anticipated as a result of full implementation of this policy shift. 2. While the County has implemented some of the fare structure recommendations of the 2015 Waterborne Transportation Survey (e.g. increasing summer vehicle surcharge to 30% from 25%), other fare structure recommendations have not been addressed, some of which could raise ferry revenue in a less painful way to our community. Why has the county not implemented certain recommendations prior to proposing extreme overall rate increases - which were not recommended in the Waterborne Transportation Survey? These include: 1)Add small car fare category; 2)Standardize oversize fares on a per foot basis; 3)Offer household accounts with variable discounts based on frequency of travel; and 4) Introduce a monthly passenger pass? Other innovative ideas are readily available from other ferry studies; e.g. a summer “super surcharge” in the high-volume July-September months on single-use rides, which would impact residents less than an extreme across-the-board rate increase. 3. The 2015 Waterborne Transportation Survey is by now somewhat outdated and many assumptions are no longer valid. Given the County’s recent increased attention to these complex and long-term issues and the extreme economic hardship posed by the County’s proposal, would it be prudent to commission a similar study identifying more creative solutions to long-term capital funding requirements that accounts for changes in ridership, demographics, and involves stakeholder input including from island residents and their representatives? AICAB and Islanders feel shocked and surprised at this most recent proposal, which will be voted on in a matter of weeks and feel our voices have not been considered. 4. Recent funding received by the County from the Federal Government under CARES and ARPA increased the Ferry Services Fund balance by approximately $6 million. As I understand, these funds will be used for replacement of the engines on the Christine Anderson, urgent repairs, and seeding the capital preservation fund. What is the approximate breakdown of the allocation of this funding between these three categories? How did the receipt of this funding alter the County’s forecast for short and long-term capital needs? 5. Can you provide information regarding the availability or unavailability of Traffic Impact Fees from the Island and Steilacoom to fund future capital improvements? a. In the past five years, how much in Traffic Impact Fees has been collected on the island vs. spent on infrastructure to improve capacity of our transportation system? b. Given the recent increase in TIF for development on the Island, how much in TIF is expected to be collected from the Island in the next eight years? c. Given that TIF funds from the Island were made available for the roundabout in Steilacoom, which has no benefit to increasing our transportation system, would it be fair to use TIF money from Steilacoom to make improvements to the Steilacoom ferry terminal? Proposed Way Forward 1. The islands and Pierce County need to work out a well-thought out and inclusive agreement. We propose this include input from community stakeholders as well as independent experts to design a balanced proposal that works to address fiscal concerns by the County, seeks to maintain affordability of the ferry system, and provides for our future while protecting the portion of our citizens that would suffer most from steep fare increases. 2. Considering the COVID-19 shutdown and this year’s ongoing recovery, as well as the drastic increase in food and other consumables, we ask the County to consider zero or a more limited fare increase in the immediate future while we work together on the way forward. AICAB has been and will continue to be a good faith partner to the County in these efforts. Thank you for your time and continued support of our community. Sincerely, Joe Straub
Michael Ray 10/25/21 3:59 PM To whom it may concern: I oppose the proposed legislation to remove public funding from the ferry. I am a land owner and have been affiliated with the island for more than 30 years. There is no justifiable reason why long-standing subsidiation of the ferry should be completely removed. The solution I propose is to increase single-ticket prices so as to retain economic stability for residents. An increase in peak season single-use tickets would utilize summertime visitors to offset rising operation costs. The proposed legislation would certainly erode the trust and respect that residents of Anderson Island currently hold for the county. Furthermore, if such a drastic cut in funding is to be made for a resource that this small community depends on, I would point out that other small communities may become wary and similarly lose confidence in their governing authority.
Jennifer Gebhardt-Steadman 10/25/21 4:49 PM I firmly oppose this proposal. The projected fare increases will devastate the Anderson Island community. There are retirees on fixed incomes, families with children and commuters who live on this island. There are owners with vacation homes that hope to retire to the island. Everyone will be negatively impacted. Most of us agree and understand that ferry rates need to increase. However, asking us to bear a 15.5% increase annually over the next 8 years is ridiculous. By the time these increases go into effect, the people who use this ferry system will end up paying more than those who use the state ferry system, which is planning rate increases of 2.5%. Many of us who oppose this proposal feel like this is literally like highway robbery, because the ferry is our lifeline (our "road," if you will) to the rest of the county and the state. If this proposal is in response to the terrible reviews and multiple complaints over the summer boat service, then this is a gross misunderstanding of the real issues at hand. This summer, the people using the ferry system simply wanted the wanted the two-boat system we've come to rely on during weekends to work. They wanted to avoid being in line for the ferry for 2-4 hours at a time - on either side. It was my understanding that the cancelled runs were due to staffing issues. What is the company who manages the staff doing to retain them? What is being done proactively to ensure that these staffing issues do not continue to come up? It is unclear if the proposal as outlined effectively addresses the staffing issues that have plagued ferry users this year. Even if it does, the proposed rate increases are still not a fair compromise for better service. The island population is growing, which will increase revenue simply by volume. That said, 15.5% rate increases over the next 8 years will have a devastating effect on the island's current and future population. Rate increases of that magnitude will drive current owners to leave the island, which will cause property values to plummet, which will also negatively affect the overall population on the island. If 25% of the island's current population were to leave in the next 2-3 years, how will that affect the current proposal? It seems foolish to put so much fiscal pressure on an isolated community that statistically matches the rest of Pierce County. A 15.5% increase annually is simply outrageous. There has got to be a better, more reasonable solution than what is proposed. I respectfully ask the committee to reject this proposal, go back to the drawing board, and come up with something that will not punish the residents, owners, and guests of Anderson Island. Thank you.
Kristianna Anderson 10/25/21 5:08 PM I write to express my concern over the drastic ferry fare increase laid out in Proposed Ordinance No. 2021-102. As I'm sure many have noted, Anderson Island is not a community made up of particularly wealthy folks. Many of the year-round residents (including my parents) live on social security and the ferry fares are already an expense we must bear for the cost of living on the island. The proposal you have suggested would undoubtedly cause us to lose many beloved members of our community who would not be able to continue to live here in the next decade if this proposal is implemented. Please, if there are alternatives, consider other ways that could fund the necessary ferry upkeep. Your attention is most appreciated.
Jim Sheppard 10/25/21 5:13 PM Being a long time resident, I have noticed how improving ferry service by going from 6pm last boat, to 10pm last boat increased by 50 miles the distance by which a person could commute. Since this happened I have watched a huge increase in home building and land values increase a lot. This has to be a win for Pierce County tax revenue. With what Pierce County is proposing, you will reverse all you have gained over the years.
Deborah Anderson 10/25/21 9:10 PM Dear Pierce County Council Members, The proposed rate hikes in ferry fares seems unreasonable and would greatly affect residents of Anderson Island, especially retirees. A much smaller rate hike would still bring in needed funds, without penalizing those who use the ferry regularly. My family has owned property on East Oro Bay for almost 70 years. I remember riding the 9-car ferry and have watched the ferries grow in size, as well as noting the increased use of the ferries by vacationers. The proposed rate hike is the worst we have ever seen and even to an unpracticed eye is obviously unfair. Perhaps Pierce County can find ways to tighten its belt and reduce spending, thereby lessening the unreasonable burden on Anderson Island residents and property owners. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Bryce Weech 10/26/21 10:26 AM I believe the goals of the proposal could be achieved without the extremely massive rate hike across multiple years. I'd like to take this opportunity to oppose in it's entirety the entire proposal.
Dana Stirn 10/26/21 12:37 PM Administrative Request: My comment submitted Friday morning 10/22 is still not showing up in the public commentary. However it has been acknowledged via responses from PC representatives. Wanting to check on reason for delay. Thank you, Dana
Robert Smith 10/27/21 11:22 AM We have been being charged for peak fees and there was rarely any two boat service at all this past summer. I heard from an employee 44 runs were canceled in a two month span. The ferry was constantly breaking down and you didn’t have the staff necessary to make sure it was run correctly. Now you want to raise prices? Where is the money you should’ve saved from having less boats running while still collecting peak rates? Democrats suck…. You take taxpayer funds and do what you like while us islanders suffer the consequences. Can’t even ensure residents get home before tourists but expect us to foot this bill? This is a hard NO!!!!
eric Cunningham 10/27/21 4:31 PM I am against the proposal to raise ferry rates. I would be more for this if the costs of the Airport, Golf courses would be treated as proposed with 90 % coming from user fees. Good luck on that. I find this proposal to make the department look bad and not trust them with such ill conceived Ideas. Have a great day.
Nori Hashibe 10/28/21 8:32 AM Raising ferry fee might affect this way. 1 Ridership will fall radically, Do not assume the constant increase of riders.Islanders can do followings: 1. Reduce travel to town.once or twice a month. 2. Ride share will become a norm. 3. We can start a van-rideshare or medical or daily shopping. 4 We can start a bus service as needed. 5. We can also do Uber Service. 6. So many islanders have boats. We can start water Taxi service. 7. There are a lot of publiccally owned land in Steilacoom. We will make free parking spaces for the islanders. This fee increase expanding in 8 years, is simply miscalculation
Amy Hillstead 10/28/21 8:48 AM I opposes these proposed fair increases. They will severely impact the residents to commute to work and go off island for necessary supplies. It will also cripple the businesses on the island that serve the residents, that are already operating with high overhead costs associated with the island.
Leroy Ellestad Jr 11/1/21 9:06 PM CM Jani Hitchen, I strongly oppose 2021-102. While I look toward building on my two lots in the near future, this proposed ordinance is not well planned. It places an excessive tax on us. The ferry system should be part of our road system. Please vote no so we may start with a realistic and viable plan formed by all stakeholders. Thank You.
Jim Cook 11/3/21 1:14 PM Dear Chairman Campbell and distinguished members of the Economic & Infrastructure Development Committee, After many of our Board members attended your committee meeting on 26 Oct, we put into motion a Special meeting to provide an update to the residents of Anderson Island of the proposal, and the product was the following proposed amendment: 1. An across-the-board rate increase of 2% - 5% annually for the next two years, excluding seniors. This compares to a 2.5% (vehicle) and 5% (passenger) increases for Washington State ferries proposed in their 2021-2023 budget cycle. 2. A rate increase of 10% on Peak Season single tickets (not commuter passes). Service and schedule enhancements 1. Three days per week of two-boat service during Peak season reduced from the County’s proposal of five days. 2. Minor adjustments to the morning and afternoon schedule to accommodate students and align with the schedules for Saltar’s Point, Pioneer Middle School, and Steilacoom High. This proposed amendment was sent directly to Jani Hitchen with a courtesy copy to the Executive. All of our communications have been to both branches per the ordinance and transparency to our public. The following is how we arrived at this point. After the initial presentation of the Proposal 2021-102 by the new Director of Planning and Public Works, Jen Tetatzin on 14 Oct 2021, our Anderson Island Citizen Advisory Board (AICAB) was surprised that this was the first we heard of the excessive increase in Fare rates (15.5% over 8 years) and unrealistic 2 boat service for 5 days a week during the peak season. As some of you are aware our AICAB Board is very unique in that the ordinance (2004-25) that created us has a broader scope than the majority of the advisory boards in the county. Just to summarize our purpose: “The AICAB shall serve in an advisory capacity to the County Council and Executive. The purpose of the AICAB is to facilitate a structured two-way communication process between the County and Island residents, property owners, and business owners regarding significant issues affecting the community within Pierce County's jurisdiction. Issues include, but are not limited to, land use, environmental regulations, infrastructure, schools, ferry service, and public safety” After the presentation on 14 Oct, we created a special committee to find out the assumptions that comprised of the Proposal 2021-102 and received many inputs from island residents to include a person who is a retired executive of the Washington State Ferry system, which resulted in a letter to the County Executive, but not until Friday, 29 October, did we received a response from the County Executive of our letter requesting said information. It was not very informative and did not provide any substantive assumptions or facts that went into the proposal. In summary, we feel that this proposal was not vetted properly with the Council and AICAB. Sometimes we forget the legislative body makes the laws and the executive body carries them out. We appreciate all that you do to continue to represent the residents of our county. Best regards, Jim Cook AICAB Chair
Clark Van Bogart 11/4/21 12:15 PM I believe it's appropriate to have a blend of fares and road budget support as I view the ferry system as a continuation of our road structure. However, my overriding question is why is Pierce County in the ferry business at all? Shouldn't the State of WA be responsible for this transportation function?
Erik Neal 11/4/21 3:17 PM It is time to seriously look at abandonment of ferry service to Anderson Island and replacing access with a toll bridge. There is a potential path if agreement with the state was reached to cross Pitt Passage to McNeil, and then across Balch Passage. This would be perfect for a public-private-partnership, where the bridges could be financed by private parties and paid with tolls for a 50-year or more concession, with known toll increases for the entire length of the concession. Tolls could be in the $10-15 range per car, which would be cheaper and more dependable service for both islands. Recommend the County conduct an alternatives analysis that considers more options than just the status quo of car-ferry service. Ketron service could be converted to a small private carrier like Herron Island. This would be a ten plus year plan to convert to new access. A bridge would be a sustainable solution.