Our Lummi Island Community

Lummi Island Work Group

What we are

The Lummi Island Work Group is a group of islanders who came together to represent islanders’ interests around our ferry fares and codes. We are a diverse group with multiple areas of expertise and abilities, but most importantly we love our island community and are committed to supporting it.


  • Bob Anderson – Moderator
  • Charles Bailey
  • Rhayma Blake
  • Peter Earle
  • Rich Frye
  • Pam Gould
  • Diane Harper
  • Janice Holmes
  • Myra Ramos
  • Mary Ross
  • Catherine Shornick
  • Ralph Steele
  • Steve Thomas
  • Marissa Ourada

Contact the Work Group for Comments or Questions

Lummi Island Work Group Member Bios




The County Council is holding two meetings of interest on Tuesday, September 26 

 At 3:25 PM, the County Committee of the Whole will consider:

  • Amendments to the ordinance that define LIFAC. Proposed changes include adjustments to the name (to Whatcom County Ferry Advisory Committee) and the number of committee members (from seven to nine), among other adjustments. New changes could also be introduced. The intent is for the Committee of the Whole to introduce an agreed upon ordinance at the Full Council meeting that evening at 6 PM.
  • Distribution of ARPA funds (American Rescue Plan Act) intended to reimburse Covid-related losses. Approximately $358,000 was lost in ferry revenue during Covid mitigation efforts.

At 6 PM, County Council Agenda includes introduction of proposed ordinance changes to the Ferry Advisory Committee. No action will be taken; public comments and a likely vote will occur at the next meeting on October 10. The hope is that new committee members would be appointed at the October 24th meeting, with advisory committee meetings commencing shortly thereafter. 

Links to associated documents are provided in each of the meeting agendas. The community and Work Group have provided feedback to the Council, Public Works and the County Executive.

Whatcom County Committee of the Whole Agenda 9/26/23  3:25 PM approx.

Whatcom Co. Council Meeting Agenda 9/26/23. 6 PM



Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee

Whatcom County Executive

Whatcom County Council 

the Work Group 


Prior announcements / Notes


Public Comment at the September 5 Council’s Special Meeting on the Ordinance Veto

We just learned that because the County Council meeting on September 5 to consider the County Executive’s veto of the ferry ordinance is classified as a “Special” meeting, not one in their regular schedule, there is no provision for public comment on the agenda. We have asked for consideration of at least a small number of attendees to have the opportunity to make comments before the vote. We may not know the answer to that question until Tuesday.

Nevertheless, this makes it even more compelling to be in attendance in the Council chambers at 10:00 or online to witness the discussion and action. Our presence will deliver a powerful message that we care deeply about this veto being sustained so that we have a fair opportunity with a reconstituted LIFAC to fully consider later this fall changes to the ordinance that governs ferry fares.

It is really, really important that we Islanders make our presence felt at this meeting!

Attend in person at the County Courthouse Council chambers at 311 Grand Ave. in Bellingham or find out how to attend via the internet at:  https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3415/Participate-in-Virtual-Council-Meetings.  Written comments are encouraged by the Council: send comments to: council@co.whatcom.wa.us.
* * * 
Special County Council Meeting About The Code On Ferry Rates

A County Council special meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday, September 5, at 10 AM, to consider overriding the County Executive’s veto of changes to the rules governing ferry rates.  Upholding the Executive’s veto allows time for the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee to start functioning again so that County staff and islanders together can consider the best way forward on ferry fares.  

It is really, really important that we Islanders make our presence felt at this meeting!

Attend in person at the County Courthouse Council chambers at 311 Grand Ave. in Bellingham or find out how to attend via the internet at:  https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3415/Participate-in-Virtual-Council-Meetings.  Written comments are encouraged by the Council: send comments to: council@co.whatcom.wa.us.

* * * 
Check below (in documents section) for documents about ferry finances, and for a copy of slides presented at the August 28th Town Hall.
See “Whatcom County Ferry Finances slides 8-25-23” about Whatcom County Ferry Finances 2006-2023, with projections through 2026; and “Ferry Finances Explained, August 24, 2023” that explains how our ferry system is funded. All financial data included in the tables were provided in documents from Whatcom Co. Public Works.

County Executive vetoes the PW ordinance. Read here: Veto of Ordinance 2023-045

Update on Ferry Ordinance Situation

As many of you have heard, the County Council surprisingly voted to approve the Public Works proposed amendments to the ferry code at their July 25th meeting. This action was a surprise because the LI Work Group had assurances from the County Executive and Council leaders that no action would be taken until the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee was re-established.

The County Executive has informed us and the Council that he intends to veto the ordinance if they do not take action to rescind their approval of the ordinance. Because of Council rules/procedures it is not possible for the Council to take final action to overturn the ordinance at their next meeting on August 8th, therefore it is most likely that the Executive will have to veto the ordinance after the August 8th meeting to stop it from going into effect. We are urging the Executive to follow through on this commitment and believe he will do so.

Next Tuesday (August 8th) at 2:15 the Council’s Committee of the Whole (full Council membership) has an agenda item entitled: Discussion regarding the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee and Related Matters. We don’t know exactly what that item means except to suggest a re-examination of the purpose, composition and structure of LIFAC and perhaps other things. In these Committee meetings there is no provision for public comment but we encourage Islanders to be present or attend via zoom. Here is the link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84678615069?pwd=RVNWcGRSTTFFZis4TkE3UGdBZzNWQT09

The regular Council meeting will be later the same day, on August 8th at 6:00 PM. There is no scheduled agenda item for the ferry, but we encourage tuning in (same link) as we know there can be surprises as on July 25th. There is time provided at the beginning of the Council meeting for public comment. Some of us will make comments about the ferry situation and you may be interested in attending in person for the greatest impact. Comments can be made on line as well. The messages we are providing to the Council and the Executive are:

  • Please stop the roller coaster of uncertainty by vetoing and not overriding the Executive’s veto of the hastily approved ordinance
  • Please give the community time to share its concerns in a meaningful way with the Council through a re-established LIFAC
  • Please accelerate the re-constitution of LIFAC as soon as possible with new leaders who will effectively listen to and share community concerns/ideas and be independent of but collaborative with Public Works
  • Please note that the code that set up LIFAC is not the issue and there is adequate provision for both on-Islanders and others to be members within the current code

Please consider carving out time to attend these important sessions on the 8th, especially the 6:00 PM meeting of the full Council. And stay tuned for an all-Island town hall sponsored by LICA the week of August 14. The Work Group will provide a complete update on the ferry ordinance situation and answers to any questions we can during an open forum.

Bob Anderson on behalf of the LI Work Group


Good news!! The ferry system has a 2 million dollar Surplus!! NOT a 2 million dollar deficit. But our work is not complete. A currently Proposed ferry system ordinance could leave islanders with BIG BILLS!!

The ordinance to raise ferry fares 38% over 2 years was withdrawn by Public works on the day it was set to be voted into law. Phew!! this only happened because a group of Islanders who had been telling LIFAC and Public Work that the accounting methods they were using were wrong for months!  was finally able to find irrefutable written evidence that Whatcom County Public Works accounting methods were flawed. At the last minute Public Works withdrew it.

But at the same time Public works was using faulty accounting practices, they wrote a revision to the Ferry System Ordinance that has been in place for 17 years. While this ordinance could be clearer in several areas, it has served to keep the Ferry System solvent and stable during that time. New language in this new proposed code could severely affect islanders. The Lummi Island Work Group drafted a new version of of the code using many of Public Works proposals, but clarifying language that would allow flagrant cost shifting from Capital expenses (paid by the county) to Operation and Maintenance expenses (paid by county and our fare fares). The recent dolphin repair of 400,000$, the largest expense ever put into the routine Operations and Maintenance pot is an example of the cost shifting that could occur.

Currently the ferry is running a deficit each month. But ridership numbers are going back up each month as well. We hope to be approaching pre pandemic ridership levels this summer. There is no question a ferry fare increase will be needed in the future as costs for routine Operations and Maintenance have gone up, but a 38% increase was excessive and unwarranted.

There is no urgency in this matter. The ferry system is more than solvent. Changes in the Ferry System code can have lasting unintended effects that need to be carefully considered and examined. Lets take the time to get this right!

LIFAC will be hearing comments and voting on whether to recommend this new Public Works Ferry System Ordinance at the June 14 meeting. 6pm at the Grange Hall.

 LIFAC could;

      • Vote to ask Public Works to withdraw the New Ferry System Ordinance at this time to allow for more careful consideration of each lasting change
      • Suggest using the Working Group proposed Ferry System draft that has already been submitted to LIFAC the County Council and the County Executive,
      • Vote to recommend passing the currently proposed vague and unfair Public Works Ferry System Ordinance. Every comment matters.

Don’t miss the June 14 meeting!  Come to hear the community’s thoughts or sign up to speak about your ideas about this New Ordinance Proposal. It will affect all of us.


Ferry, Rates, Fares, Budget,

Updated: 2023/09/23 @ 1:13 pm Lummi Island Work Group

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