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NC attorney general asked to weigh in on ferry tolls

Posted March 8, 2012
Updated March 9, 2012

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— The General Assembly's top legal expert is asking North Carolina's attorney general for his opinion on Gov. Beverly Perdue's recent executive order to suspend ferry tolls for a year.

"It is my opinion that the governor's order has no force or effect," legislative drafting director Gerry Cohen said Thursday.

The governor's attorneys say she does have the power to stop the tolls. Whatever Attorney General Roy Cooper decides, the battle between the legislature and Perdue could end up in court.

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

The tolls were supposed to take effect April 1, but Perdue issued the moratorium, she said, to give area counties more time to rebuild their economies after the most recent recession and Hurricane Irene.

"(There's) a lot of the people in Beaufort County and Pamlico County that are still reeling from Hurricane Irene, still living in FEMA trailers," Rep. Tim Spear, D-Washington, said. "They have their houses destroyed. Schools in some places are still under repair and can't be used, and now we want to place an undue economic burden upon these people."

Perdue has 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. NC attorney general asked to weigh in on ferry tolls NC attorney general asked to weigh in on ferry tolls

Lawmakers, however, could vote in their session that begins in May to terminate the moratorium.

That leaves the DOT in a tough position, Transportation Deputy Secretary Paul Morris said.

"In all honesty, we are walking a very important but fine line right now to get the tolls ready but not start them until otherwise directed," he said.

Without them, Morris said, the ferry system will be $2 million short this year, and unless lawmakers take action to fix that, he said, there will likely be fewer ferries on the water this summer.

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  • Nancy Mar 9, 2012

    fancymike, is your 'other' sign in name piene? Wouldn't surprise me given the content of postings under both ID's.

  • fayncmike Mar 9, 2012

    "piene - "High gas prices a problem? What do you drive?"

    Out of curiosity, what do YOU drive? You seem bent on blaming the car choice on people who complain about waste in government - if you can tie it in any way to people instead and blame them.
    Nancy"

    I drive a Prius and my wife drives a Smart for Two though she has told me that she's going to trade it in on a Nissan Leaf. Now, perhaps you'd be kind enough to tell me what you and your partner, if any drive?

  • Nancy Mar 9, 2012

    "And it unfortunately does NOT stop there! The state's plan to toll I-95, the new beach access fees on the OBX - all just "another way" - through the back door - to recoupe the money they're not taking in on new taxes!" - bluemax4195

    You don't think your taxes are high enough yet? Really? Based on what?

  • tux Mar 9, 2012

    "Yeah, because the coast is the cheapest realestate market in the state."

    You don't get out much, do you?

  • Tcheuchter Mar 9, 2012

    "Until you cut some programs/departments/agencies, etc within the state, you will continue to need more money as basic costs to run any entity increase."

    Not strictly true....sure their basic cost increase but then so do salaries etc due to inflation. The dollar cost might increase but the real cost may well be static.

    Furthermore the States population is growing fast so its not to be unexpected that the costs to the state would grow also.

  • btneast Mar 9, 2012

    all just "another way" - through the back door - to recoupe the money they're not taking in on new taxes!

    Well yeah........that has been going on for many many years, doesn't matter which party. It's a little more pronounced now because of the recession. No one has the political will, or power to make any staff or program cuts. Until you cut some programs/departments/agencies, etc within the state, you will continue to need more money as basic costs to run any entity increase.

  • bluemax4195 Mar 9, 2012

    This REALLY concerns me! I'm sure many of us remember the GOP candidates' main "theme" during the last election, which certainly seemed to center around the fact that they would "not increase taxes" - at least to me it did. And of course everyone is all for that, myself included. Now that the GOP is in command, they must have realized they've evidently backed themselves in the proverbial corner! And it now seems at EVERY opportunity they're finding "new" ways to get that money from North Carolinians anyway! Case in point - these ferry tolls! I don't believe for one minute there would be a $2 million short-fall on ferry services without these "new" fees. Hmmm - maybe somebody "wants" a raise?!

    And it unfortunately does NOT stop there! The state's plan to toll I-95, the new beach access fees on the OBX - all just "another way" - through the back door - to recoupe the money they're not taking in on new taxes!

    I'm republican, but ANY way you slice this - THIS IS JUST PLAIN WRONG!

  • Tcheuchter Mar 9, 2012

    "The solution is easy. Give passes to people who either live or work on the isolated island. Give passes to school buses and other govt. transportation.
    Charge Tourists full price for riding the ferry. You can sell season passes for North Carolina residents who use the ferry often during the year, but neither work or live on the isolated areas.
    I thought that all up without having to get kickbacks from ALEC and Art Pope."

    Perhaps a good idea but its not the one the GOP passed......main problem is that it then makes the ferries too expensive for the tourists that are the areas lifeblood.

  • btneast Mar 9, 2012

    Yeah, because the coast is the cheapest realestate market in the state.

    The folks he and I are referring to do not have waterfront property, nor do they live in watefront developments. . The non waterfront property down east is relatively cheap. Why do folks just automatically assume that everyone that travels to the coast is rich? How about all of the people who work in restaurants, motels,grocery stores, marinas, etc........the regular working folks that vacation there....????

  • corey3rd Mar 9, 2012

    The solution is easy. Give passes to people who either live or work on the isolated island. Give passes to school buses and other govt. transportation.

    Charge Tourists full price for riding the ferry. You can sell season passes for North Carolina residents who use the ferry often during the year, but neither work or live on the isolated areas.

    I thought that all up without having to get kickbacks from ALEC and Art Pope.

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