Resident and Non-Residents Should Pay Different Rates

To: Commissioners Wesen, Dahlstedt, Janicki
Cc: Rachel Rowe
Re: Fare Structure on Guemes Island Ferry

Dear Commissioners,

Ferry fares to Guemes Island continue to be a hot topic for all concerned.  Rising costs and limited incomes set the table for contention. I invite consideration of the following proposal.

I propose that landowners and renters on Guemes continue to pay the same fares as currently charged. Non-resident passengers using the ferry pay a higher rate.  Much as Washington State charges a higher license fee for non-residents choosing to fish or hunt in Washington, the County would charge a higher rate for non-resident ferry users.

A simple sticker for a vehicle window or residency card for foot passengers would provide the lower rate. Resident stickers or cards could be obtained by showing a property tax statement at the ferry office. Renters could obtain a sticker/card from their landlord.

Because Island residents shoulder a greater tax burden and also maintain cash flow via fares throughout the year, requiring visitors to pay more seems fair. I would suggest a $12 fare for non-resident adult foot passengers and a $25 non-resident fare for standard vehicles. Fares for children remain unchanged.

Under the current fare structure, Guemes Island residents effectively underwrite a portion of the fare for non-residents. A two-tiered structure would generate additional revenue.  It would also ease some of the current tensions over rate increases.

Best Regards,
Martin Taylor