State may ask ferry riders for an extra quarter to help build new ferries

  • Jerry Cornfield
  • Wednesday, February 16, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

Ferry riders may have to cough up another quarter to help the state replace its aging vessels with new ones.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, is behind a bill to tack 25 cents onto each fare and use the money exclusively for building or purchasing new boats.

A November surve

y of 1,951 ferry riders found 45 percent support a surcharge for capital projects though the amount they were considering was a dime.

Under Senate Bill 5742 to be considered today, those quarters would get poured into a newly created vessel replacement account.

A fiscal note for the bill concludes the surcharge will net $6,325,000 in the 2011-13 biennium and $7,824,000 in the two-year budget after that. That’s a drop in the bucket for what Washington State Ferries says is needed to overcome a short- and long-term deficit in the agency’s capital budget.

“It doesn’t raise as much as needs to be raised but it’s a start. It’s probably enough that we can begin to bond against it,” Haugen said.

While this is a fee hike, Haugen is confident she can round up votes to pass it.

“Everybody recognizes the need to build boats,” she said. “I tried to keep it as nominal as possible. I think people can stand to pay an extra quarter for this.”

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