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March 2, 2012
Representative Frank Iler from Brunswick County has been extremely vocal when it comes to residents of Pamlico and Beaufort counties paying a toll to ride their commuter ferries.
In a News and Observer article last month he said, “It’s an effort to have them cover more of the cost, instead of taxpayers all across the state paying for people who take the ferries to work. Why should taxpayers pay for 94% of the cost, instead of the people that use it?” He went on to say, “If my daughter pays a $9 fee to park her car in downtown Raleigh, where she works at a law office, commuters on the Neuse and Pamlico ferries should be able to absorb the cost of a commuter pass at $150 or $200 a year”.Greg Piner
More recently, after Governor Perdue signed an Executive Order that the State Department of Transportation not collect new ferry tolls ordered last year by the legislature, Representative Iler was at it again. He told the N&O: “I’m disappointed she chooses to pander to folks in that way. Someone who has a job and wants to cross the river and buy a pass would be paying less than $1.50 a day. I think it’s extremely reasonable. It’s a user fee. If you don’t ride the ferry, you don’t pay it. Taxpayers are covering 94 percent of ferry operating costs now.”
In keeping with his passion for people to pay their own way, I would think Representative Iler would lead the charge during the next Legislative session to establish a toll on the new 36 million dollar Swain’s Cut Bridge that opened January 27th 2011 to his home town of Oak Island. Taxpayers paid for 100% of the bridge, the second to the island. If each resident of Oak Island paid Representative Iler’s “extremely reasonable” $1.50 per day to cross the bridge, it would cost each resident a little less than $550 dollars a year. Multiply $550 by the approximately 8,000 residents of Oak Island and you would get $4,400,000 each year. In just over eight years the entire $36,000,000 cost for the bridge would be raised.
Don’t get me wrong. I am adamantly opposed to placing a toll on the Swain’s Cut Bridge. The people of Brunswick County paid for that bridge with their highway taxes; just as the people of Pamlico and Beaufort counties pay for our ferries with our highway taxes. The Swain’s Cut Bridge is vital to the economy of their area, just as our ferries are vital to the economy of our area. The Swain’s Cut Bridge links the people of Oak Island to family, and work, and churches, and hospitals, and schools, just as our ferries link us to those critical pieces of our lives.
I get it. Representative Frank Iler doesn’t.
Greg Piner is a resident of Oriental, NC.