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The St. Johns River Ferry Commission was informed at its May 20 meeting that the ferry ould break even by the end of the current fiscal year.
Jax Daily Record Thursday, May 30, 201312:00 PM EST

Auditors predict St. Johns River Ferry will break even financially

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Although the six-month report on City operations showed the St. Johns River Ferry would lose money, its operating commission was recently informed the service could break even during its first year back under City control.

The Jacksonville Port Authority discontinued operation of the ferry Sept. 30 and the City agreed to operate the local link in May-port for Florida A1A since that date.

Under JaxPort’s guidance, the ferry continuously operated at a deficit and City Council charged the St. Johns River Ferry Commission with developing a plan of sustainability for the City to operate the service.

The Council Auditor’s office on May 15 released its six-month report that reviewed the City’s finances, including the ferry.

The ferry’s sub-fund projected a $103,607 deficit because of lower-than-budgeted ridership fares.

That prediction was made with information gathered up to March 31.

Kyle Billy of the auditor’s office informed the commission at its May 20 meeting that additional information shows a different outlook.

A.J. Souto of the City’s Budget Office and Billy reviewed the ferry’s budget performance through the end of April.

“We think the ferry can pretty much break even on the year being under on expenses and under on revenue in essentially offsetting amounts,” said Billy.

“Breaking even” will mean the ferry has met budget requirements that were set for the fiscal year, but the budget was set with $200,000 contributions from JaxPort and the City.

“Profitability is better than it has been in the past and we continue to reduce the deficit the ferry has been operating under,” Council member John Crescimbeni said.

Crescimbeni chairs the committee.

“We will continue to market the ferry and position the ferry to maximize its ridership. With those riders come revenue,” he said.

Replacing the contributions from JaxPort and the City in the next budget will be discussed when the commission develops its budget for fiscal 2013-14.

“We are going to develop a budget to continue operating the ferry past Oct. 1,” said Crescimbeni.

The commission moved forward with its marketing efforts and received an update on the development of a ferry mobile app.

The City’s Information Technology Department is developing the app and will use a GPS transmitter that was installed on the ferry to let riders know where it is on the river and what direction it is headed.

It is tentatively scheduled for launch by the end of June, said Crescimbeni.

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