June 16, 2015

Guest Column:  County officials must unite
on dredging and nourishment issues


It’s a familiar story; a family comes to Dare County on vacation.  The wife and her friends want to go deep sea fishing but can’t because inlets are shoaled so badly that no boats can get out.  When the husband takes the kids to the beach, he finds it narrow and cluttered with debris from houses that have collapsed.  The restaurant they choose for dinner serves Chilean Sea Bass and Philippine shrimp.  They go home vowing never to return.

Sound far-fetched?  It’s not.  It’s where we are headed if our county commissioners don’t stop trying to divide us and start pulling our county together to solve the challenges we face.  Tourism leaders and town officials support dredging for all our inlets and interior waterways.   Those who use the inlets and waterways know they need tourists to use their services and consume their products.  Here is an idea for the new majority on our county board – stop trying to pit us against one another and, instead, find solutions that serve our common good.

Taking money from the beach nourishment fund will raise taxes in towns that are maintaining their beaches.  It is unnecessary and shortsighted.  A better solution has already been proposed.  Raise the sales tax by a quarter of a percent – 25 cents per $100 – and dedicate the money to dredging all our inlets and interior waterways.

Senator Cook has blocked this bill because he says he won’t raise taxes, but he knows that by not acting, he is forcing higher taxes on Dare County homeowners instead of allowing our visitors to help defer the cost.  His preening and posturing are not serving his constituents well.  The county commissioners need to call him to Manteo to answer for his inaction!  The voters of Dare County need to remember just how little he is helping and how much disruption his refusal to serve our interest is causing.

A dedicated funding source solves half the problem, but there is still a shortage of dredges to maintain the inlets and restore our beaches.  Other coastal counties are facing the same problems.  Our county commissioners need to stop splitting us apart and start looking for partnerships to insure the infrastructure is in place to pump sand whenever and wherever it is needed.

Let’s stop bickering and start working to solve our county’s problems.  If we work together, we can rest assured that our visiting family will return for many more memorable vacations in the future.

(Fountain Odom is chairman of the Dare County Democratic Party. This article is reprinted from the party's Facebook Page.)

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