June 22, 2015
UPDATE: Sen. Cook explains why he opposes
1/4-cent sales tax for dredging
BY IRENE NOLAN
a statement this evening, Sen. Bill Cook explained why he opposes a
1/4-cent sales tax without a referendum that has been requested by the
Dare County Board of Commissioners to pay for dredging of the county's
At the board's request, Rep. Paul Tine introduced the bill, House Bill
388, in late March. It passed the House in a matter of days, but has
been stalled in a Senate committee.
Cook notes in his statement that Dare County already has the authority to raise the sales tax -- with a referendum.
"No other county in the state of North Carolina has been exempt from
the referendum (vote of the public) requirement of Article 46," Cook
said in the statement. "The authority was given to all 100 counties at
the same time in 2007. Since then, 29 counties have enacted that
authority with voter approval referendums."
The senator said that "it was expressed to us that about $3 million
could be appropriated out of the 2 percent for beach nourishment within
the occupancy tax for waterway maintenance, and it would not disable
any of the future or previous beach nourishment projects."
He noted that the "the number one industry out of Oregon Inlet is
recreational fishing," and says that those visitors who fish are paying
into the occupancy tax.
"Therefore, in the meantime, I believe we need to use the occupancy tax
and continue to discuss this issue with the (U.S. Army) Corps and see
if the proposed dredging plan from the Corps will be adequate enough to
keep the inlet open."
That, he said, is his solution in the short-term for Oregon Inlet. But,
he added that the county and the state also need to focus on the
long-term solutions for their inlets.
"The proposed budget from the Senate provides additional appropriations
to the Shallow Draft Inlet Dredging Fund, total estimated funding in FY
2015-16 is at $20 million," Cook said. "It reserves up to $4 million of
that fund for Oregon Inlet dredging needs, while also appropriating
$900,000 to the Department of Administration so they can begin the
necessary requirements on a long term solution at Oregon Inlet."
In addition, Cook said that Hatteras Inlet has been included in the list of possible inlets that could be covered by the fund.
Cook also noted that at this point, there is no official commitment
from the Corps of Engineers on how long a dredge will remain at Oregon