A Port of Seattle audit found the Port’s lax management of dispatch and taxi services at Sea-Tac airport allowed the services to underreport receipts — and consequently underpay the Port.
A Port of Seattle audit presented Wednesday found the Port’s lax management of dispatch and taxi services at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport allowed Puget Sound Dispatch, which operates Yellow Cab taxis in King County, to underreport receipts and underpay the Port.
The Port and Puget Sound Dispatch have agreed on a nearly $880,000 settlement due on or before January 31. The commission is to vote on the settlement Tuesday.
Puget Sound Dispatch inked a five-year contract with the Port in November 2010 to provide taxi services from Sea-Tac. The company was required to pay either 13 percent of gross receipts or at least $3,670,778, whichever figure was higher.
But the Port did not fully understand how Puget Sound Dispatch calculated receipts, did not adequately monitor the company’s operations and did not keep track of taxi-regulation changes in King County.
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That allowed Puget Sound Dispatch to file inaccurate receipts, and records required by the agreement were “incomplete and/or missing,” according to the audit.
The auditor did not attempt to determine how much the dispatch company might owe the Port.
According to the audit: “Any efforts to determine a precise amount owed to the Port would require assumptions upon assumptions based on hearsay and incomplete sets of information.”
Airport director Mark Reis told Port commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting that he agreed with the audit’s conclusions regarding airport management’s role and shortcomings.
Puget Sound Dispatch’s contract expired at the end of October and has continued since then on a month-to-month basis. Port staff proposes extending Puget Sound Dispatch’s agreement through June so the Port can settle on a successor and conduct an orderly transition.
Staff also recommended that the next operations agreement move from a concession fee to a per-trip fee of $5.01, “which is enormously simpler to keep track of,” Reis said during Wednesday’s meeting.
This contract for on-demand taxi service is different from the ride-hailing operations, such as Uber and Lift, which are known as transportation network companies (TNCs). The Port is still negotiating an agreement with TNCs.