May 31, 2018
Senate Approves Budget with $15 Million for Dare Dredge
By Sam Walker
Outer Banks Voice
year’s legislative short session is expected to be about as short as it
can get, and passing an adjusted state budget is going to be even
shorter in what’s being called an unprecedented move.
biggest local provision authorizes $15 million from the shallow draft
inlet dredging fund to create a partnership between the state and a
yet-to-be-identified private company to purchase a hopper dredge, with
Dare County paying for its operation in Oregon and Hatteras inlets and
leaders of the state House and Senate created a conference committee of
40 members, all from the GOP, to hammer out the $23.9 billion spending
proposal for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
using the conference report process shuts off any debate or amendments
and only allows up-or-down votes by the various committees, then the
full chambers, which has not happened with a budget in modern history.
Democrats say they have been shut out from having any say in the proposal.
countered that it was not uncommon when Democrats were in the majority
for nearly a century that budgets were negotiated behind closed doors ,
then dropped in the laps of members just hours before a vote.
dredge funding requires the private company to also pay $15 million for
the $30 million dredge and provide work to Dare County at a reduced
rate in exchange for a state loan eventually being forgiven.
Dare would likely be using it the most, the dredge would be available
to help clear other waterways along North Carolina’s coastline.
has crawled to a near halt as federal funding for smaller inlets and
harbors has been repeatedly cut by Congress and the White House for
County and North Carolina have since picked up the slack by paying the
Army Corps of Engineers to clean out the channels with their limited
formal resolution passed at their May 7 meeting, Dare County
commissioners pledged $3,250,000, with $3 million already set aside
from an occupancy tax allocation for dredging.
money from the state that would bring the total to $10 million for
operation of the dredge over a five-year period and would come from the
shallow draft channel fund.
Manager Bobby Outten said the county will enter an agreement with the
private contractor that would give the county almost exclusive use of
have arisen that the dredge would only be used to keep Oregon Inlet
open, since $9 million of the county and state funds are allocated to
those waters, and the budget bill specifically mentions the Oregon
Inlet Task Force would be in charge.
reiterated Tuesday that the dredge will be available to use anywhere in
the county and not just Oregon Inlet, and that the task force is made
up of members who are more familiar with the needs in the county’s
plan to carry over from the previous year’s budget $2,219,000
designated for dredging of the Old House Channel, and have designated
money for the Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund, which was created
but unfunded in the 2017-18 budget.
million will be placed in the fund to be used to help pay for future
beach renourishment projects anywhere along the N.C. coast following
After clearing the Senate on Wednesday, the House is expected to approve the budget by the end of the week.