July 16, 2013
New and increased ferry tolls still a possibility for Ocracoke
By CONNIE LEINBACH
specter of new tolls on the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry and increased tolls
on the ferries between the island and the mainland are still an issue
for Ocracoke residents and visitors.
This week and possibly
next, the North Carolina General Assembly is continuing to hammer out a
budget for 2013-2014, and ferry tolling is still in the mix.
have at least two weeks to go,” said Paul Tine, a Democrat who
represents Hyde County in the state legislature, about the current
negotiations to finish the budget by July 30.
As of now, the
state is operating under a continuing resolution, noted S. Henri
McClees, part of a two-member lobby team hired by Hyde, Beaufort, and
Pamlico counties to fight ferry tolls.
Tine said that the
House’s version of the budget contains language to keep the ferry tolls
status quo, while exploring other means of revenues, such as naming
rights and selling advertising on them.
version of the budget calls for tolls on all ferries in North Carolina
and increases tolls on the ferries between Swan Quarter and Cedar
Island and Ocracoke.
McClees explained that the first part of
the budget negotiations is determining the tax package, or the revenue
side. The spending budget is devised after the income is determined.
House is standing firm on our issue of not tolling ferries that haven’t
been tolled,” she said, but the Senate has not changed its philosophy
of “user fees” for the ferries.
There are six Senate members and 23 House members on the negotiation committee.
of those House members is John A. Torbett, a Republican from Gaston
County, who in April, along with Tine and Rep. Charles Jeter, a
Republican from Mecklenberg, visited Ocracoke to understand first-hand
the island’s issues.
The roster of budget negotiation conferees can be found at www.ncleg.net.
“It’s a very serious time,” McClees continued. “People are just sitting around waiting.”
That includes lobbyists.
“They don’t want to talk to lobbyists (now),” she said, and “writing to them would just irritate them.”
Tine, who has an e-mail newsletter, said he would send information out as soon as he has it.