Mayor renews pitch for ferry liaison
June 9, 2008 · Updated 6:08 PM
But councilors say partial state ferry funding could split the positions allegiance.
The mayors already swung two strikes, but has vowed to go to bat again for a new city position that could boost cooperation between the island and the state ferry system.
I think I need to better explain the job to the council at our next meeting, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said Monday. We need a person to help us do what were trying to do in the urban neighborhood near the ferry terminal.
Kordonowy said she will again propose a ferry liaison job at this evenings council meeting.
The position was cut from the mayors proposed 2006 city budget by the council and then dropped from the Winslow Tomorrow budget proposed last week.
The majority of councilors say the position is unnecessary, costly and could have conflicting interests as the city negotiates various land-use issues with WSF.
At issue are Winslow ferry terminal redevelopment, Winslow Tomorrow planning near WSF-owned lands around the harbor, a public boatyard and WSFs maintenance facility upgrades.
Some councilors are frustrated with the mayors dogged effort to win approval for the position.
I hate to do this, said Councilman Nezam Tooloee on Wednesday, after learning the mayor had added the position to the Winslow Tomorrow budget after it was nixed from the citys general budget. We had a lengthy debate about this during the budget process. Now the rationale is that (Winslow Tomorrow) needs this position to do its job.
Tooloee said WSFs contribution to the proposed liaisons salary could weaken the positions role as an advocate for the citys interests.
Theres an issue of wheres the allegiance? he said.
While stressing the importance of an open and positive relationship between the city and WSF, Councilwoman Deborah Vancil agreed the proposed liaisons salary funding could create a conflict of interest and hurt the citys ability to strike agreements favorable to the island.
Kordonowy defended the split pay structure, saying that it is common for Bainbridge city government and other cities to share costs with developers for wetland monitoring specialists and other consultants.
I believe it is possible to have an arms-length relationship with non-city entities that share the cost of consultants and scientists employed by the city, she said.
But Vancil said the city should be especially wary of the state ferry system.
The historical relationship between Washington State Ferries and Bainbridge Island has had the island on the losing end of every single negotiation, she said. Weve seen (WSFs) promises fall through and, previously, theyve not been trustworthy.
Vancil would prefer that existing staff negotiate with WSF rather than boost an administrative payroll she believes is already too large.
Its still unclear why we need this position, she said. It seems like it would add to an already administrative organization. I prefer to see a tighter, better managed organization rather than new jobs (added) every time something new comes up, which seems to be the way were going and thats expensive.
Vancil said shed be more open to the job if it was not funded with WSF money and if it disappeared like Cinderellas pumpkin once a specified, limited-term project was completed.
City funding for the position could come out of the $750,000 earmarked by the council during this years budget process for open space acquisitions.
Kordonowy said shes open to changing the positions job description to alleviate the councils concerns.
She said the council misunderstood the positions intended role, which she says was always envisioned as a communication link between WSF and the city.
We know we need City Hall to do much more because theres much more work before us, she said.
When we look at the design plan (for Winslow Tomorrow), we know we really need somebody to assist us.