Daily Archives: March 4, 2009

A worst-case scenario for city finances

The city has established a worst-case scenario for its predicted revenues in 2009.

If it bares out, it won’t be pretty.

The city may be forced to shave an additional $2.4 million from a budget still smarting after recent staff and service cuts.

The City Council asked the administration to develop a baseline revenue estimate after having seen estimates trimmed down in recent months.

While Finance Director Elray Konkel is predicting $18 million in revenue for 2009, the baseline estimate – which he considers the lowest revenues could possibly go based on current data – puts possible revenues at $15.6 million. The city’s revenues haven’t been that low since 2004.

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History makes way for advertising on state ferries

Ads on state ferries dominate car deck walls, spill from ceiling to floor in stairwells and even crowd tables so’s you can gaze at Ichiro or organic rice pilaf while sipping your coffee.

Now the ads have crowded out the historical photos that lined the passenger deck.

Here’s blogger and longtime journalist Chuck Taylor’s take:

Puget Sound ferry riders, remember those wonderful historical photos that adorned the walls of the three Jumbo Mark II Class boats, the MV Puyallup, MV Tacoma, and MV Wenatchee? The selection of nicely framed blowups was appropriate to each vessel — old-time pics of those cities’ distant past.

Well, they’re gone, replaced by wall-sized advertising, presumably because Washington State Ferries is navigating the economic storm that has state government listing to starboard.

Vehicle tax for ferries fizzles in Olympia

Despite calls from transportation experts for a statewide tax to maintain the ferry system, the idea appears to have gained little traction in Olympia.

“I don’t think you’ll see an (motor vehicle excise tax) or anything else that the Transportation Commission put forward,” said Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, who attended a briefing Monday about the state’s long-term ferry plan. “We’re looking at the transportation budget to see how we can accelerate the boat-building process without revenue increases. If we don’t have new state taxes and we’re serious about the ferry system, then we need some agreement on making the ferry system a priority for the first time in a decade.”

Postponing highway projects to meet ferry system needs by well-placed legislators, Rolfes added.

Read Ed Friedrich’s story about the the proposed ferry funding here.