Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Snohomish County’ Category

WA Transit Agencies Lag on Fare-box Recovery Ratios

by Matt Rosenberg December 9th, 2013

Washington state public transit agencies in 2012 badly lagged the national average in paying their own way for operating costs. Reports from the Washington State Department of Transportation and the National Transit Database show respectively that the 30 Evergreen State public transit agencies received just 13.6 percent of their operating revenues from fare payments versus an aggregate of 33 percent for all 824 transit agencies reporting nationwide. However, in Washington, transit system van pools had a remarkably strong financial performance, earning a full four-fifths of operating costs from riders.

State audit says Monroe public hospital district mismanaged – it now pledges reforms, and seeks tax hike in April vote

by Matt Rosenberg April 3rd, 2013

Voters on April 23 will decide whether to increase tax levy support for Valley General Hospital in Monroe and associated clinics in Snohomish County Public Hospital District #1, north and east of Seattle. But the system has not only been undercharging its funders, as supporters emphasize; it has also been wasteful and poorly managed, as detailed in a new accountability report from Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley.

Most Snohomish Districts Lag On State Reading Tests In 8th

by Matt Rosenberg March 7th, 2013

Of 13 Snohomish County school districts reporting results, eighth-graders in eight of them in 2012 lagged the state average in percent who could pass the state achievement test in reading. In math, seven of the 13 districts fell below the state average in percent of eighth-graders who could pass the state achievement test. Snohomish districts outperforming the state average in eighth-grade pass rates for both math and reading in 2012 were Northshore, Everett, Arlington and Mukilteo. Districts underperforming the state on both eighth-grade measures last year were Monroe, Marysville, Edmonds, Stanwood, Darrington and Lakewood. Three other districts exceed the state average in eighth-grade acievement test pass rates for one subject but not both: Granite Falls, Lake Stevens and Snohomish. Two related data visualizations follow, below.

Citizen Panel: Sound Transit Needs To Tighten It Up

by Matt Rosenberg March 1st, 2013

In its year-end 2012 Performance Report, presented Thursday at the monthly Sound Transit board meeting in Seattle, ST’s Citizen Oversight Panel took the regional transit agency to task for poor operating cost controls and questionable resource allocation choices, while revenues are 30 percent lower than expected. The COP says in its report that with the Great Recession having smacked down projected ST 2 revenues by nearly a third, Sound Transit needs to clamp down on growth in day-to-day costs such as a planned 9 percent bump in transit operations spending in 2013, and what has been an ongoing five percent average growth rate for agency operating costs. That includes overhead and a particular sore point, security.

Sound Transit’s ridership up, but big challenges loom

by Matt Rosenberg October 11th, 2012

Commuter volume through August of this year on the buses and trains of Seattle’s regional transit agency Sound Transit was 18.5 million, up 11.7 percent compared to the same time last year. Regional express buses have carried a majority of Sound Transit’s riders from January through August of 2012. That could shift as the starter light rail system is built out over the next decade and if commuter rail usage grows. But overall, as a proportion of all in-region passenger trips, transit use in Central Puget Sound is expected to grow only from 2.9 percent in 2006 to no more than 5.3 percent by 2040.

WA Audit: Snoho-Skagit EMS boss tied to dubious spending

by John Stang September 6th, 2012

The Washington State Auditor’s Office concluded that potentially tens of thousands of dollar in public money went to an emergency services official under suspicious circumstances from 2002 to 2010, according to a fraud investigation report released Tuesday. The official was Bonnie Robinson, former executive director of the state-authorzied North Region Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Council, who resigned on Aug. 2, 2010, slightly more than two weeks after the council put her on administrative leave. The council referred the matter to the state auditor’s office in December 2010 for review, which was stalled during determinations of whether the state had the authority to do so. The council does not have insurance against this type of loss. Tuesday’s audit report said money was inadequately accounted for. It also recommended improvements to the council’s internal financial controls, and referred the matter to the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office to see if any charges are warranted.

The council coordinates emergency medical services and trauma training for Skagit, Snohomish, Island, Whatcom and San Juan counties. It has an annual budget of roughly $315,000, of which about $170,000 goes to three full-time employees. Robinson’s annual salary grew from $40,498 in 2002 to $56,490 in 2010, but according to the state auditor’s fraud report, was augmented with a variety of expense and benefit benefit payments that lacked proper authorization or documentation.

Monroe Schools honcho forced to quit after sex pics scandal

by Matt Rosenberg September 4th, 2012

The director of the Monroe, Wash. School District’s high school-level alternative education program called Leaders In Learning, who was earning $109,260 in total salary and benefits, was forced to resign because he used his school computer to view sexually explicit images, including some of his wife. Over a period of six years, the inappropriate content got steamier, as complaints and warnings from fellow employees made uncomfortable, were ignored.

Though the resignation occurred in June 2011, this case was made public only last week through a final order of suspension of the state education certificate of Kenneth Brown, quietly posted online by the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) at a page where hundreds of such disciplinary documents dating as far back as 1992 are linked – but only alphabetically by employee’s last name, not by date or school district.

WSDOT survey: If there’s more freight delay, you will pay

by Matt Rosenberg June 19th, 2012

If traffic congestion on Washington’s interstate and state highways were to grow by a far-from-impossible 20 percent, 56 percent of freight-dependent businesses would pass the added costs on to consumers, more than a third would reroute or eat the costs, and one in ten would either shut down or relocate. The projected impact on freight-dependent businesses would result in a net one-time loss to Washington of 27,250 jobs, and a $3.3 billion decline in direct, indirect and induced economic output. All that is according to a new survey of more than 1,000 Washington freight-dependent employers, done for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) by Washington State University’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center and WSU’s Freight Policy Transportation Institute. A central piece of how the state defines traffic congestion is that it occurs when average speeds on interstates and state highways fall below 45 miles per hour.

Whether highway congestion in Washington would actually rise by one-fifth at any point in coming years is hard to say, but as the economy recovers, the odds grow stronger. Gov. Chris Gregoire’s “Connecting Washington” task force report issued in January 2012 does forecast tripling of freight volume in the state by 2035, plus 28 percent population growth in the next decade, and 60 billion vehicle miles traveled in Washington by 2020 – up from 57.2 billion in 2010. The bulk of traffic congestion statewide occurs in Central Puget Sound and the theoretical drops in employment and economic output from a congestion spike would be greatest there as well, according to the new survey report from WSDOT and WSU. But that report emphasizes that many freight-dependent employers elsewhere in the state have a big stake in Puget Sound roadways snarls because they depend on the ports of Seattle and Tacoma for shipping of goods to their final destination.