@NCCapitol

Perdue to block planned increases in coastal ferry tolls

Posted February 28, 2012

N.C. ferry
Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Gov. Beverly Perdue said Tuesday that she will issue an executive order to delay for a year tolls scheduled to go into effect in April on five coastal ferry routes.

Calling the increases, which were mandated by state lawmakers last year, a "ferry tax," Perdue said the moratorium would give area counties more time to rebuild their economies after the recession and Hurricane Irene.

“It is unjust for the General Assembly to balance their budget on the backs of coastal working men and women," she said in a statement.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger called Perdue's action illegal.

“We expect the Department of Transportation to follow the law," Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. "Because Gov. Perdue and our predecessors in the legislature nearly bankrupted the state, we had to make tough decisions to balance the budget, including implementing a minimal user fee to offset a small percentage of the cost of coastal ferries, which are funded by every taxpayer in North Carolina.”

The 2011-12 state budget mandated that the state Department of Transportation raise $5 million a year through new ferry tolls by the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Lawmakers exempted the Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry from a toll because they said there had to be a free way to get off Ocracoke Island. They also exempted the Knotts Island-Currituck route because it regularly carries school buses to eliminate adding an hour onto bus routes.

Area residents who use the Bayview, Cedar Island, Cherry Branch, Southport and Swan Quarter ferries aren't so lucky. Tolls on those routes were set to begin – Bayview and Cherry Branch are currently free – or increase April 1, although the DOT hadn't yet set rates.

Boards of Commissioners in Pamlico and Beaufort counties have set aside up to $40,000 between them to hire a lobbyist to persuade lawmakers to rescind the tolls. Hyde County commissioners were expected to vote next week on joining the effort.

Ferry passengers also a petition drive going to show lawmakers the extent of opposition to the higher tolls.

Perdue instructed the DOT to find enough spending reductions to offset the amount that the toll increases were projected to generate.

At the end of the 12-month moratorium, the DOT could review the economic conditions along the coast and decide whether to begin collecting the higher tolls or delay them further, the governor said. Although the budget required the new tolls, state law gives the DOT the discretion of whether to collect them, she noted.

Still, she said, lawmakers could vote in their session that begins in May to terminate the moratorium.

47 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • ratherbnwpb Feb 29, 2012

    am sick of subsidizing peoples activities. You have to pay to play. Let those that use a service pay for it.
    gwk8845

    Perhaps like others who may be sick of driving on those highways that you pay for?

  • ratherbnwpb Feb 29, 2012

    DId Bev do anything to prevent the increase in the ferry price from Southport to Bald Head Island. Does the Stae of NC pay any portion of that ferry. Answer is NO to both. Why should residents of NC pay for a ferry to Bald Head, a part of the state of NC, when other ferries are either free of highly subsidized by the state? There is no other way to get to that island where quite a bit is paid in taxes.
    Honesty first

    The Southport-Bald Head Island is a private ferry and is not state operated, thats why!

  • GK N.Ral Feb 29, 2012

    I am sick of subsidizing peoples activities. You have to pay to play. Let those that use a service pay for it.

  • Honesty first Feb 29, 2012

    DId Bev do anything to prevent the increase in the ferry price from Southport to Bald Head Island. Does the Stae of NC pay any portion of that ferry. Answer is NO to both. Why should residents of NC pay for a ferry to Bald Head, a part of the state of NC, when other ferries are either free of highly subsidized by the state? There is no other way to get to that island where quite a bit is paid in taxes.

  • Objective Scientist Feb 29, 2012

    "Objective Scientist - It's called the U.S. & NC's Government's checks and balance system." - post by 2thec

    2thec... I am very much aware of the system of "checks and balance" in our government at both state and national levels and very much value/appreciate the "theory" behind it. However, what I see today in government at all levels goes beyond "check and balance". The "check and balance" system in our government, as I understand it, was intended to create neither "stalemates" nor a situation in which the electorate/citizens are "jerked around". Today's bitterly "take no prisoner's - yield no ground - partake in no meaningful discussion/dialogue/compromise" partisan atmosphere results in both those conditions. I had my high school "civics" course as well as several courses beyond that - I know about "checks and balances" and that is NOT what how I'd label the partisan snipping that has become the norm at all levels of government today.

  • skinnyCat Feb 29, 2012

    doesn't a healthy tourism industry along our coast benefit everyone by attracting spending in NC? Once a NJ dollars gets into NC, it generates state tax revenue each time it changes hands. Some of these new tolls will keep tourists off the islands.

  • cynthiashockley Feb 28, 2012

    Thank you Mom2two for understanding! For many folks making the choice between gas money (to drive the additional 50 miles around the Neuse River via the New Bern bridge) and the ferry fee money will be a difficult choice.

  • conservative1980 Feb 28, 2012

    Maybe I missed something, but did Swan Quarter move from Hyde County to Pamlico County?

  • Mom2two Feb 28, 2012

    Make the ferries a fee for everyone except those that live in the county for THAT ferry. If you live in Pamlico County, then the Swan Quarter ferry is free for you, but everyone else must pay. Because their road options are severely limited (unlike those who drive on toll highways) and these are some of the poorest counties in our state, the residents of these counties should not have to pay. They can work or you can price them out of a job and put them on welfare (much more expensive than the $$$ that will be generated by the toll).

  • redrubberball1 Feb 28, 2012

    If you'll take a look at Greece, you see America in our not too distant future. They believed the promises of govt. for so long that they're now getting to see the whole house of cards fall apart. We aren't far behind. When it becomes abundantly clear that the taxpayers can't support the level of debt that politicians have saddled us with, many things will be forced to stand on their own merit, or in this case, be paid for by the users.

More...