February 29, 2012
UPDATE: Governor aiming to block ferry toll increases

Gov. Bev Perdue yesterday announced that she will issue an executive order blocking new taxes that the General Assembly imposed on passengers on the state’s ferry system.

“This new ferry tax – which I have always opposed – is both excessive and discriminatory,” Gov. Perdue said. “It is unjust for the General Assembly to balance their budget on the backs of coastal working men and women.”

In 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly mandated that North Carolina Department of Transportation increase ferry revenue up to $5 million annually by establishing tolls for all ferry routes, except for the Ocracoke-Hatteras Ferry and the Knotts Island Ferry.  

To meet the legislative mandate the new tolls must be in effect by April 1.

The governor’s order is expected to state that coastal North Carolina is recovering from the recession but at a slower rate because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene last year. She announced the action yesterday because the new tolls and toll increases would impose an additional burden on the region.

The governor’s order will impose a 12-month moratorium on collecting increased tolls on routes that already were tolled and on collecting new tolls on routes that currently are free.  At the end of the moratorium, the North Carolina Department of Transportation will review the state’s economic conditions and determine whether the moratorium should continue.  The General Assembly could terminate the moratorium before the 12 months are over.

The order also directs NCDOT to find enough budget reductions to make up for the revenue that the new ferry tax would raise.

The legislature imposed the new ferry tax over Gov. Perdue’s veto.

The legislature’s budget requires the establishment of the new tolls, but state law gives DOT the discretion of whether to collect them. 

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