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A question of values

The numbers are back on the valuation of Horluck Transportation, and neither Horluck owner Hilton Smith nor Kitsap Transit officials are happy with the results.

The final assessment, the one to put a value on the Horluck business itself, has been under way since May. Although the hard numbers are not yet publicly available, Kitsap Transit Executive Director Richard Hayes said the value assigned to the business was grossly inflated.

“I think we got ‘Enron-ed,’ actually,” Hayes said, referring to the accounting firm that established the price.

Although Kitsap Transit has until Aug. 16 to decide whether it wants to buy any part of Horluck Transportation — defined as the ferry fleet, the Sidney Dock and the franchise itself — Hayes said he doubts anyone would be willing to recommend the purchase after seeing the numbers.

“We can’t begin to pay for the business, with what the appraisal price was,” Hayes said. “(If we tried to,) the public would kill us.”

Smith would not comment on the disputed value, but did not seem displeased.

His biggest complaint comes from Kitsap Transit’s potential solution to the cost problem. If Kitsap Transit chooses not to exercise its option to take over Horluck Transportation, Hayes said it may instead start its own Port Orchard-to-Bremerton service using buses.

Kitsap Transit has been running buses between Port Orchard and Bremerton since June, but only on Sundays, when Horluck doesn’t operate.

Hayes said the new route has had moderate success, despite slow beginnings. He said he expects the route’s passenger volumes will match those of other Sunday routes within the next six or eight months.

Hayes said transit officials believe they could run a full-time shuttle between Port Orchard and Bremerton for about what it currently costs to reimburse Horluck for its Kitsap Transit passengers.

Currently, Kitsap Transit pays $1.80 for every bus transfer or Kitsap Pass-carrying passenger Horluck transports.

“We wouldn’t be considering it as an

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