The Guemes Island ferry fares brought in more money than in previous years, but fell short of the county’s target, according to a draft 2019 Ferry Fare Revenue Target Report.
The fares brought in about $50,000 less than expected, according to the report. In 2018, 196,383 vehicles and 410,177 passengers rode on the ferry, and fares brought in about $1.23 million (up from $1.16 million in 2017 and $1.19 million in 2016).
Skagit County staff released the draft report on April 10. The report is available online at www.skagitcounty.net/ferry until Wednesday, April 17. Written comments are due at 4 p.m. that day. A public meeting with the Guemes Island Ferry Committee to discuss the draft report will be 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in the Anacortes Public Library meeting room, 1220 10th St.
The final report will be presented to the Skagit County Commissioners at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 23, in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, 1800 Continental Pl., Mount Vernon. The public is welcome to attend that meeting.
Calculating the fare revenue target is based on the averages five years of ferry operating and maintenance costs and then removing the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax money (provided by the state to help fund the ferry system) and the Ferry Deficit Reimbursement money. That number is then multiplied by 65 percent.
The five-year average operation and maintenance expenditures for 2014-2018 was $2.4 million. Subtracted from that is the $136,000 average for the fuel tax and the $246,000 average for the reimbursement payment. That comes to about $2 million, which is multiplied by 65 percent to get $1.3 million.
In 2018, the revenue target was $1.28 million and the ferry box revenue was at $1.23 million, according to the draft report. That’s a shortfall of about $50,000.
Maintenance and operations in 2018 cost about $2 million, and the state provided $390,000 in deficit reimbursement and $85,000 from the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax. That leaves about $1.5 million and the ferry fares contributed $1.2 million.
That means the county had to subsidize the ferry with almost $300,000 from the county road fund.
The $1.28 million in ferry fares in 2018 was still up for $1.16 million in 2017, $1.19 million in 2016 and $1 million in 2015.
The county passed a ticket surcharge in June 2018. The surcharge was in place from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, and brought in a little more than $95,000. In 2019, it is expected to bring in $225,000, according to the report. All that money will go into a fund to be used solely on the replacement of the current ferry with a new vessel.