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February 12, 2012
Take this to the DOT hearing on ferry tolls.
For comparison, the State of Michigan had a ferry that crossed nearly 5 miles of open water between the upper and lower peninsula. The ferry was deemed impractical, too expensive to operate, and unable to handle the required volume of traffic. To make a long story short, a 4-lane suspension bridge was constructed to replace the ferry. The present toll to cross the bridge is $4 for passenger vehicles, and discount passes are available to frequent users. All revenue collected is used to maintain, operate, and protect the bridge.
So, let the State of North Carolina build a 2-mile conventional bridge to replace the Minnesott ferry. Who would object to a bridge that would be available whenever you needed it, and that would get you to your destination much faster than the ferry? I would expect the toll to be much less than the $4 Mackinac Bridge toll.
Sure, the Mackinac Bridge handles between 160,000 and 500,000 vehicles a month, but we could settle for a bridge only half the length, and with just 2-lanes. After all, currently, a ferryboat can be compared to an abacus verses a high-speed computer. The cost of building our bridge would be far less than a bridge like the Mackinac Bridge that was built over nearly 300-foot deep water, must pass large ships under it, and had to cope with an environment considerably much harsher than ours.
This may be a bit “far out” until you compare it to what our State is proposing.
River Boat Gambling
There has been a hornet’s nest of adverse reaction to the recent announcement of tolls to be levied on local ferry service, most notably across the Neuse River from Minnesott Beach to Cherry Point. These tolls were envisioned as a way to raise tax revenue to meet projected state budgetary shortfalls.
I think I have formulated a plan to allow the state to increase revenue via its ferry services, while not placing an undue burden on Pamlico County residents opposed to paying a ferry toll.
The plan? Combine the ferry toll with the NC education lottery. We could call it the NC education/ferry lottery. A “free” lottery ticket would be issued with each voluntarily paid toll. Only those who wished to play the lottery would pay the toll. I predict compliance would exceed 50% and ridership would likely increase. I can envision expanding the ferry operation to allow other forms of gambling to take place too, but only during the ferry passage. Can you say “slot machines”?
With just a little imagination the ferry service could become more than just a transportation service, but a source of gambling entertainment, state income and more. Can you spell “Yuengling”? What goes better with a turn at the craps table than a tall, frosty beer? That’s right – nothing. The new motto of the NC Ferry Service would be: “Ya gotta pay to play”. I think such a proposal would resonate in Raleigh.
A few weeks ago, I wrote to Senator Phil Berger, President Pro Tem of the NC Senate, asking that he support a bill to repeal the ferry toll. Today, I received this response from his office:
“Unfortunately, the financial mismanagement of our predecessors in the legislature created a staggering $2.5 billion budget deficit – the worst in state history. It forced us to make tough decisions to fill that hole and 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. Most other ferries have long required similar, small user fees. And taxpayers continue to pay the overwhelming majority of the cost of the ferries. The budget, and this economy, have forced all of us to do more with less. Senator Berger continues to monitor the state’s financial situation, and he’s constantly looking for ways to make government work better and help all North Carolinians get back on their feet. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.”
Here is what I wrote back:
Dear Sen. Berger,
I would hope that you do not advocate balancing our state budget on the backs of log truck drivers, fishermen, and children riding the bus to school. All of these and thousands more will pay a huge tax if you begin charging a toll on our commuter ferries in Pamlico and Beaufort counties. You will be seriously hurting a part of the state that is still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Irene.
All I ask is that you look at the specifics of the ferry toll issue. It double taxes hard working people that can least afford it, and it will raise almost no net revenue. It seems to me that this is exactly opposite from your beliefs. You are creating a government bureaucracy to tax working people to go to work.
Please help us,
It was important to attend the first meeting to demonstrate our community’s unified opposition and to highlight DOT’s failure to include Pamlico County initially.
Now, if we want to fight a tax on our use of a state highway, it is worth considering a boycott of the March 19 meeting. I see no real downside given the lack of input sought by the General Assembly and DOT to date.
Opposition to the scheduled tolls on the Cherry Branch-Minnesott ferry is about unfair and unjust taxation. This is a double taxation, as citizens who use the ferry have already paid transportation taxes with very soon to be $5 per gallon of fuel.
As a direct result of our State Legislature’s action: children will be taxed for traveling to receive an education; veterans and people with limited incomes will be taxed for traveling to receive medical care; workers will be taxed before they punch in.
Partisan politics in Raleigh balanced the state’s budget on the backs of people who suffered tremendous loss from Hurricane Irene. This is tax shifting to a low population, low wealth area that has little power to fight this tax and effectively no voice in Raleigh.
Pamlico County is represented by Norman Sanderson, self-described as: “not the kind of politician” who actually read the budget bill he voted to pass; “not the kind of politician” who takes time to understand the impact of legislation on his district; “not the kind of politician” with the political courage to fight all odds for his constituents.
Representative Sanderson is a man of faith; so I appeal to his conviction. Mark 2:14-17 recounts Jesus’ visit with Levi at the toll booth. Jesus called Levi to leave his lucrative political appointment to join Jesus in serving those who are vulnerable.
Mr. Sanderson must see this moment as Jesus visiting him at the toll booth, calling him to serve those plagued by the scheduled ferry tax. Sanderson can find redemption by becoming the strongest voice, the most vigorous advocate to forestall this injustice.
Frankly, anything less will render State Senate Candidate Sanderson’s voice nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Pamlico County deserves elected representation far above the “Norm.”
Well, good money is to be thrown after bad with hiring of lobbyists with money that could be used in our County. I see budget woes of overspending and mishandling being blamed on the people who tried to reign in the spending. People love to spend others money for sure . Hopefully there will be a delay in the tolls. Not surprised to see the coverage on the ferry building did not include the fact that it would be saving taxpayers the exorbitant rental fees charged in Morehead City but that would require balanced reporting. How sad.
I strongly disagree that we should “depend on our legislators to fight the ferry toll issue for us. They didn’t fight it the first time, one is not running for office again and has no reason to fight it this time, and the other one isn’t going to fight for us now.
His lack of knowing this issue was even in the bill, his lack of knowing when meetings are/were held shows me and should show others he is not a “hands on” fighter for Pamlico County.
I feel we are in this situation because of these two elected officials. Hire someone to fight for Pamlico County! And STOP the ferry tolls and the new ferry building on the Cherry Branch side.
Capt. Bob (retired) CP Ferry Suggestion
Volunteer ferry workers should be considered to cut costs on the Minnesott to CP run. In Florida, with a large retired population, similar to the Oriental area, citizen volunteers are used throughout the state in non-paid firefighting, police watch and various community
positions to cut costs.
The retired volunteers do an exceptional, efficient job in positions with a demanding and intellectually challenging work environment, certainly more than operating a ferry boat over a short 3 mile run.
The town of Oriental alone has more qualified retired sailors, with boats, experienced in all marine systems, navigation, weather, boat handling and I’m sure more than many of the present staff of ferry workers. Some of these ex Navy retirees have experience on carriers, destroyers, large ships dwarfing in size and complexity any of the ferries in service on the Neuse River run.
I spend my summers in Oriental and use the ferry on a regular basis and can easy see, in my opinion, numerous ferry positions that can be easily handled by these retired Oriental sailors. I know it would be no
challenge for me or any of my retired sailor buddies to perform these duties.
I suggest the Oriental Tollfreeferry.org web site set up a page where these retirees can sign up to volunteer, stating their qualifications, time available to work, etc. With enough qualified volunteers, the Oriental commissioners and representative Norm Sanderson can present a concrete cost cutting proposal to the NC DOT and legislature and set in motion the steps and plan to accomplish this task.
Studies of retirees volunteering in the workplace continually show jobs performed efficiently, timely, conscientiously, no drugs or alcohol use or tardiness.
Retirees stop complaining, step up volunteer, cut ferry operating costs and pass the savings onto the working stiffs who use the ferry everyday.
Capt. Bob Birch(retired)
sv Light Waves
Please let Jimmy Spain know that we support not hiring a lobbyist. We believe our representative should be able to handle it, give him a chance. He sure got the message at the meeting and hopefully, our legislature will consider the Hurricane in their deliberations. For the price of a lobbyist, the County could give passes to thousands of locals to get on the ferry if they needed to; keep our money in the area. We just moved from DC where government is always trying to move your tax money to a different pocket/ location. Speak out Jimmy, you are so very correct, it would be a total waste of money!
Is 306 between Minnesott Beach and Cherry Point a Highway or not? May I point out that on South 306 there is a STATE HIGHWAY Sign that reads “SOUTH 306” with an arrow directing drivers to turn right to board the ferry. There are NO signs nor any indication that the State is “ENDING” South 306 at the Minnessott Beach site. Therefore, I submit to the State Men and Women responsible for placing a fee on the ferry that this is in fact making 306 a Toll road.
No ferry fees!
To Towndock.net regarding Ferry Tolls.
I often see references to the fact that we have 2500 boats in Oriental… What are there… 2 (or 3) Minnesott Beach-Cherry Point ferry boats?
Do the math… can you say ‘blockade’?
At the public hearing Wednesday, February 15 on the imposed tax on local ferries, a citizen asked the state representative to go to Raleigh on the next day, February 16 to plead our case with the short session of the legislature that was scheduled.
The local representative corrected the citizen and said there was no session scheduled.
Sunday, February 19, the News & Observer from Raleigh, page 3B, reported on the special three-day session of the legislature that had just concluded.
What else can one say?
Norm Threw Us Under the Bus
Bravo to Towndock for exposing the “kind of politician” Rep. Norm Sanderson really is – one who stays in lockstep with his political party even if it means voting in favor of something that will hurt the economic well-being of his Pamlico County constituency. His one vote against the budget would not have stopped its passage, but it would have shown us that his allegiance lies with his constituents. Obviously, that’s not the case.
As a former resident of Pamlico County, I would like to see the ferry riders boycott the ferry system. I understand this is easier said than done, since I too depended on the ferry for almost 20 years traveling back and forth to Cherry Point.
I feel this ferry toll if approved would just open the door to other DOT tolls.
Take Highway 306 south in Pamlico County for example, isn’t it time it should be resurfaced? I bet our law makers would like to see a toll booth constructed at Grantsboro so that the resurfacing project could be funded too.
Where is the money going for this high NC gas tax that just increased in January 2012? Can anyone explain how this money used?
Jeff A. Broughton
PS: If anyone has the answer to this above question maybe you also have the answer as to how our NC lottery money is being distributed while school systems continue to face cutbacks each year.
I made it a point to be at the DOT hearing on February 15th, even though I live over 60 miles from Pamlico Community College, and have very little vested interest in the ferry issue. I do have a very real concern in my heart for the people and their struggle to maintain the quality of life that sets them apart from the present day frame of mind that is eating away at the root values that made this country.
Greg Piner’s outstanding Letter to the NC General Assembly Members thoroughly conveys the importance of the free ferry service to the local community. It clearly identifies the economic and social impacts that imposing a ferry toll will place on those who can least afford it. The NC General Assembly Members would not dare pull this stunt in more affluent areas of our state, for fear of being catapulted out of office.
State Representative Norm Sanderson has abandoned his responsibility to his constituents and is unworthy of the office that he holds. His statement that “I can’t be that kind of politician” is a p_ _s poor response to the question asked of him. Obviously, he just does not give a hoot.
Something else that I witnessed that night was that there are many residents who have come to the area that have the knowledge and experience to lead action groups to demand fair and impartial representation of issues that affect their community. Many of them may be retired but they still have the valuable knowledge of how to get the attention of the General Assembly Members in Raleigh, and it is in their best interest to get involved up to the hilt when things begin to go south. They have the time, the knowledge, and in some cases, the financial resources to make a huge difference.
As usual, the NC General Assembly Members go after the population that is least able to defend themselves. This is evidenced by its clear message to the DOT to not impose tolls on the Hatteras-Ocracoke and Knott’s Island ferries on the Outer Banks, which are used primarily by tourists who expect, and can afford a few bucks for a ferry ride. I wonder who pulled the strings to get that mandate into House Bill 200.
My prayers are with you,
I won’t go into my opposition to the ferry tolls as other have stated arguments against the proposal more eloquently than I can. I will say we need to continue sending letters and comments to state officials.
As soon as I got home from the public hearing (which was a sham and colossal waste of time, but that is another story), I emailed the Joint Transportation Oversight Committee. I also cc’d my representatives and the DOT Information Involvement officer to have them entered into the public comments.
Though I have received a few responses from some of the committee members’ low level staffers, there was nothing to get me excited.
The sad part is I have emailed Mr. Sanderson three times over the past couple of months on ferry tolls and have received no response.
I have heard some of my neighbors say this is a done deal and we need to concentrate on getting a lower toll. I respectfully disagree. We need to continue the fight for no toll.
Jack Taylor, Jr.
To the NC Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee:
To charge the people of this county to ride a ferry that has always been an essential part of their lives when they are struggling to make ends meet (10.2% unemployment rate, many still homeless from Irene) is reprehensible and amounts to a special tax for living here. Where will the county school system find the money to pay for buses to cross the river for athletic events or field trips? An extra $50 one way (for the bus and its passengers) will quickly add up. What about students who cross on the ferry to attend our local charter school? They will be, in effect, now charged tuition to attend that school. Pamlico County students who attend Craven Community College classes in Havelock will have to budget for that additional ‘tuition’ as well.
I urge you to make the ferry fee small, to offer an affordable commuter pass (in the $50 annual range) to local residents, to exempt school buses (or at least their passengers), and to offer free ferry days so that local families can continue to make an occasional trip to the beach. I would also like to request a variety of pass options to offer flexibility for various types of commuters. Pamlico County residents should not be expected to bear an unfair burden for the DOT, one that they are ill-equipped to handle.
Jennifer Y. Baker
Ferry Meeting at PCC 2/15/12
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
There was no good.
The fact that our elected officials so badly let us down. Our local and state elected officials should first represent their people, then their party. In the case of the Ferry Toll Issue (Bill HB 200) this was obviously not the case.
It was clear last night that the people of Pamlico County felt betrayed. The ferry tolls will have a significant financial impact on many people in the county. We didn’t hear about it until it was law, and the Department of Transportation started building tollbooths before we had our meeting to discuss the issues.
The news that even if we buy a yearly pass to ride the ferry we will still have to pay extra for each passenger in our vehicle. When the DOT spokesman told the school girls that the activity bus and all on-board would have to pay to ride the ferry to sporting events a lot of angry people got angrier. If they can charge school kids who ride on state buses there is no limit.
So now one has to wonder:
If a funeral procession used the ferry would the dead person have to pay?
If a pregnant lady rides the ferry does she pay for two?
Do the people who work on the ferry have to pay the pedestrian rate?
Do pets have to pay, and is the rate the same for cats and dogs?
Regarding Pamlico’s State House Representative Norm Sanderson’s remark at the Ferry toll hearing: What exactly does “I can’t be that kind of politician” mean?
On Wednesday February 15th a public meeting to discuss the ferry toll increase. Approximately 5% of our county population was there.
It is important to note who was not there. Our State Senator Jean Preston, did not show and our regional representative of the State Transportation Board, Hugh Overholt of New Bern (also a member of the Ferry Subcommittee) did not show. Jean Preston voted twice to add this new state highway tax to the citizens of Eastern North Carolina. Once was in the original Bill HR 200 and once in the override of the Governor’s Veto.
State Representative Norm Sanderson was at the meeting. He also voted twice in favor of this new highway tax. He stated that he didn’t know that it was in the bill with the bill being over 500 pages. He stated that he couldn’t be expected to read it all. The bill is actually only 343 pages. One would think that if he even glanced at it he would have known that.
Some representatives actually noticed the new highway tax and managed to get the Hatteras-Ocracoke and Knott’s Island Ferries exempted. While our representatives are “part time“ they make a salary of $13,951 dollars per year, they receive expense accounts of $559 per month, and they receive 100% free medical care. One would think that they might actually look at what they vote on.
Greg Piner shared the following letter with TownDock.net
Letter to NC General Assembly Members
I will begin and end my comments with the same request. That request is that you please repeal the portion of HB 200 that requires the Ferry Division to establish a toll for the two commuter ferries, Bayview Ferry on the Pamlico River, and Cherry Branch Ferry on the Neuse River. These tolls will create a severe hardship on the local population, while generating little revenue.
I feel I can speak to this ferry tax issue with some level of experience. My wife and I moved to Pamlico County almost 38 years ago to a large extent because of the then new Cherry Branch ferry. Then for 33 years I took the ferry back and forth to Cherry Point MCAS almost every workday for a total of over 17,000 trips. For those of you wondering, that adds up to over $66,000, at $4 per trip.
What has disturbed me about the rhetoric related to the ferry tax issue is how some people look at the ferry system as completely unique from all the rest of our transportation system. That riding a ferry is a privilege, somehow different than crossing a bridge, or driving on a highway.
I tell you ladies and gentlemen, that the Cherry Branch/ Minnesott ferry is our bridge. It is our bridge to work. It is our bridge to family. It is our bridge to church. It is a bridge that carries log trucks, and bread trucks, and fish trucks driven by hard working people trying to save a few dollars to feed their families. Most importantly it is a bridge that we pay for every year with our highway taxes.
For me there are two important responsibilities of a state. All the people of a state should pay to educate our children, and all the people of a state should pay to provide safe and efficient transportation. I am willing to help pay for a tunnel in the mountains of North Carolina that I may never use. The people in the mountains, and the piedmont, and the urban areas of North Carolina should be willing to help pay for our ferry system.
So now, after almost 40 years of operating the Cherry Branch and Bayview ferries without a toll, you passed a law last year directing the Ferry Division to increase the revenue raised by ferries from $2,000,000 per year to $5,000,000 per year.
The three ferries that have been charging tolls were mostly transporting out of state tourists coming to North Carolina to see our beaches. You now added tolls to two inland ferries that were built to carry commuters, not tourists. Instead of a two-hour trip to the beach these ferries made 20-minute trips to work. This revenue would not come from happy tourists looking for lighthouses. This revenue would come from local folks getting up at 5:00 AM to work a long day, hoping to get back home before dark.The truth is if you want to generate revenue from a toll you either charge a small toll on many cars or a large toll on a small number of cars. Let me give you a simple example:
Imagine you are the toll czar and your responsibility is to raise $1,000,000 per year using a toll. You are given three locations:
1. A section of I-40 in Raleigh near the RDU Airport, 2. The two bridges going over to Atlantic Beach in Carteret County, and 3. The Cherry Branch ferries. So how much does each car pay to raise that $1,000,000 per year?
The I-40, Raleigh folks would pay a little more than a penny per car.
The Atlantic Beach folks would pay about 8 cents per car.
The Cherry Branch ferry folks would pay exactly $4.00 per car.
Now the really sad part:
If you as the General Assembly raised this revenue, as I think you should, by a small increase in the highway tax for all the people in our state, guess how much it would cost each person? The state could raise the entire $3,000,000 of revenue and it would cost 45 cents per person per year.
So you either have the people in one of the poorest parts of the state, people who are still trying to recover from Hurricane Irene, paying hundreds of dollars a year, or you make a tiny increase in the highway tax that will cost the average consumer 45 cents per year.
General Assembly members we need your help. This is a very bad law. Please repeal it. Don’t bleed revenue out of people who can least afford it, and then brag about not raising our taxes.
As much as I appreciate the restful and picturesque ferry ride across the Neuse River and back, I believe the time is at hand to stop worrying about funding the service. In fact, the time has come for Pamlico County to request that NCDOT install a bridge from Minnesott Beach to Cherry Branch. The ferry funding issue only underscores that need. Ferry operations will only get more expensive in future years and the initial round of fares, as with all other taxes, are only likely to increase.
I know, I know, all of us love the ferry and no one wants it to go away. It is a fundamental part of what makes Pamlico as special as it is. But if we think beyond the basic transportation issue, we might learn that the ferry is also a deterrent to a little much-needed growth in the county.
Just as we have hundreds of citizens who travel to employment in Havelock, there are also hundreds in Havelock who would prefer to house their families in the Pamlico lifestyle. But travel by ferry is uncertain when the weather is bad, not a plus to potentially-relocating Cherry Point airmen and flight mechanics.
I think the time has come to decide to open up the county to people with interests and tastes similar to ours. We are also in desperate need of their property- and sales-tax dollars. A bridge across the Neuse would incent an appropriate measured level of growth that is long overdue. Ferry fees are a done deal. Let’s see if we can’t make a more productive and beneficial point at Wednesday night’s public hearing. Here’s to a prosperous, if not quite so bucolic, future for Pamlico County.
I appreciate the financial strains existing in the State Budget, and I am willing for Legislators to explore cuts in services or to entertain fees on certain services. However, these must be applied with equity to all areas of North Carolina. I cannot understand the Legislature’s principle in forcing Tolls on Minnesott-Cherry Branch and Bayview-Aurora Ferry riders, the vast majority of whom are citizens of Pamlico/Craven/Beaufort Counties, while at the same time declaring that Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry riders, most of whom are vacationers or tourists, many from out of state, should go Toll free.
The argument put forth regarding Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry being the only means of access for Hyde County citizens and should therefore be a free ferry, is belied by the already existing fees imposed on them when using the Swan Quarter ferry. Equally spurious is the notion that the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry should be free because of Emergency Access – there are well established methods to assess and declare Emergencies on the Outer Banks, and elsewhere in the State, so in the event of such declaration the Ferry Toll could be waived until the end of the Emergency situation.
A parallel argument of inequitable treatment would be the relative costs of operating and maintaining the roads which the ferries connect. Minnesott-Cherry Branch is an extension of NC Highway 306. Bayview-Aurora is an extension of NC Highway 33. Hatteras-Ocracoke is an extension of NC Highway 12. Imposing fees on NC306 and NC 33 makes them, in essence, Toll Roads. Should those Tolls be applied to ferry operation, repair, and maintenance of only those roads? Would a Toll on NC 12 help defray the cost of repair and rehabilitation of NC 12? No one in Raleigh can argue that the lifetime costs of operating and maintaining NC 306 and NC 33 are in any way comparable to those of NC 12, which is in need of expensive rebuilding every time a major storm hits the Outer Banks. I have sent requests by letter and email for Senator Jean Preston and Representative Norman Sanderson to get the costs of these roads from NC/DOT and publicize these differences.
There will be a legislative session in Raleigh beginning February 16. I challenge Senator Preston and Representative Sanderson to rise and demand equitable treatment for the citizens of Pamlico/Craven/Beaufort Counties, with those citizens of Dare/Hyde Counties, regarding imposition of Ferry Tolls? These are issues that I will put to them at the NC/DOT meeting and hearing at 7:00pm on February 15, at Pamlico Community College.
Submitted for Your Consideration, With Respect
Those of you concerned with the impending imposition of fees on many heretofore free North Carolina ferry routes might wish to point out to the NC ferry czars that New York’s Staten Island ferry is free. Of course this is a pedestrian-only service, and you have to continue your journey by train, bus or taxi; but plenty of each are available at the ends of the ferry route. The service moves 60 thousand people every weekday.
At a time when so many are trying to rebuild from the hurricane, when so many homeowners are facing outrageous rates for wind and hail, when the majority of the traffic on this ferry is Pamlico County based, when gasoline prices are rising, and when so many are out of work I would think the legislators should reconsider the fees being proposed.
The idea of placing 8 additional employees on the State payroll, which means salary, health, and retirement benefits paid for by taxpayers, is unthinkable! (Keep in mind those health and retirement benefits are for life.)
As taxpayers, our voices should be heard. It has been stated that this decision is a “done deal” with the exception as to the decision about the exact fee to be charged. I would think that the patrons of this state and especially those directly impacted, should have been given the facts, complete facts, before this was voted on by those we voted into office.
Residents in the Raleigh area do not have the outrageous wind and hail insurance fees as we have in Pamlico County. Yet, they had wind damage after Irene. Why were they able to keep their rates lower…because they have more voices voting in the legislature than Pamlico County. Is this also the case as to why the ferry fees are being placed on Pamlico County residents using the ferry?
We should be attempting to make money from tourism. If we are not able to reverse the decision to implement ferry fees, then perhaps we may be successful in allowing county residents to have a special permit so they may continue to use this ferry system as it has stood for years(free) while charging non-residents the fees.
If the decision has already been made and is a “done deal”, what is the purpose of the meeting? If it is to make Pamlico County residents feel as though their voices are being heard, I’m afraid I can’t buy that explanation. Keep in mind Pamlico County had to fight to even get a hearing within the county.
I challenge all residents of Pamlico County to write all the legislators and show up at the meeting. I continue to have faith in our democratic system and truly believe our voices do count. However, everyone must be willing to let all legislators know what your thoughts are on this subject.
(I might suggest that you provide a “mailing” address list of ALL the legislators so the citizens of Pamlico County may write them all stating the impact any fee on the ferry would have on our lives and businesses.)
This letter was also sent to State Representative Norman Sanderson, State Senator Jean Preston, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis and cc-ed to TownDock.net
Honorable Phil Berger
President Pro Tempore
North Carolina Senate
Dear Senator Berger,
The 2011-2012 State Budget Bill (H200) directed the Department of Transportation(Sec. 31.30) to establish tolls on all ferry routes except the Ocracoke/Hatteras and the Knotts Island routes. I would like to see you take action to remove the changes initiated in this bill. It also be much appreciated if you came to the meeting at 7PM on 15 February 2012 at Pamlico Community College to present your position on this issue.
The current proposal to initiate new ferry tolls in North Carolina is both ill advised and unfair. It is ill advised because the certain decrease in ferry users coupled with the increased costs for collecting tolls is not likely to generate much additional income. It is unfair to poor counties like Pamlico whose transportation infrastructure and growth lag well behind the average for the state.
The two ferries that really effect Pamlico county are the Minnesott Beach-Cherry Branch Ferry and the Aurora-Bayview Ferry. They serve us and the surrounding counties in much the same way as bridges serve some other towns and counties. In fact, there has often been discussion about replacing them with bridges. They serve as physical and economic lifelines.
The much touted growth of the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) at Cherry Point gave us hope for some good paying jobs and the opportunity to help provide housing for some of the new military and civilian personnel that will be associated with that growth. According to the 2010 Census Pamlico County’s, growth rate was 1.6% over a 10 year period compared to the state average of 18.5%. While we do not want unrestrained growth, we do want reasonable and competitive access to good paying jobs. Sufficient and good employment, is important to the young people in the county.
Many of our residents in the county are fully or partially retired. 21.7% of our population are over 65 compared to the NC average of 12.9%. 11.5% of our population are veterans. Many of these veterans are retired military, like myself, who use the medical facilities at MCAS Cherry Point. Many are eligible to use the VA Outpatient Facility at Morehead City. Charging to use the ferries will put another obstacle in the way of obtaining those services. It will also discourage additional military retirees and veterans from settling in the county.
Tourism is something that is also very important to the county. Many visitors and many others who have decided to settle here have arrived after taking the free ferry as a relaxing side trip. That likelihood will certainly diminish if tolls are added to the ferries.
In conclusion the ferries are our bridges to growth, better jobs, medical care, and tourism for Pamlico County. Now the state wants to put an additional tax on our “bridges”. I don’t see any effort to similarly tax the real bridges that affect those items for other counties and municipalities. They are both part of the North Carolina Transportation System. I think that it is ill advised and unfair to the residents of this county to add additional tolls to the ferry system.
Pamlico County Resident, U.S. Army Retired
Life Member Disabled American Veterans
Town of Oriental Commissioner
This letter was sent to Department of Transportation official, Jamilla Robbins and cc-ed to TownDock.net
Dear Mr. Robbins:
I support the concept of the broad citizenry paying for the public services it receives. I also support the concept that the costs of government services be spread fairly. The fees charged for services should not, in and of themselves, influence where in the state people and businesses should locate.
It would not be fair for the state to charge for ferries without also charging for other transportation services, like tolls on roads and on bridges, all across the state. It is not fair that the major population centers, where more roads are, use their political influence to establish new fees that affect only the people in the less populated areas like those served by the ferries. Fairness would require also putting tolls on I-85, I-40, and I-440 around the Raleigh-Durham area so that every driver would end up bearing his or her fair share of the costs of government-provided transportation infrastructure.
The Aurora ferry carries many PCS workers to and from work. Putting a toll on that ferry may significantly influence workers to reside on the company side, to the disadvantage of the other side. Similarly, some Cherry Point MCAS workers live on the Pamlico County side of the Minnesott ferry. Putting a toll on that ferry may significantly influence workers to reside on the Cherry Point side. In addition, Pamlico residents would be much more likely to shop in New Bern than in Havelock and Morehead City if the ferry had a toll. Pamlico County is already poorer and more depressed that Craven and Carteret counties. Adding costs to come to and go from Pamlico County seems particularly unfair to its residents and businesses.
Accordingly, I recommend that no fees be charged on the Minnesott and Aurora ferries. If this requires a change in state legislation, please make that recommendation to the legislature.
1/14/12Stories on The Proposed Toll:
Public Hearing Wednesday on Minnnesott, Aurora Ferry Tolls – February 13, 2012
Pamlico County Turns Out For DOT Ferry Toll Hearing – February 17, 2012
How Pamlico County Got Stuck With Ferry Tolls – February 20, 2012
County Commission Votes Monday on Toll-Fighting Lobbyist – February 24, 2012
Governor Perdue Stops Ferry Tolls – February 28, 2012
Toll Opponents: Fight Still To Be Taken To Legislature – February 29, 2012
Guest Column: No Man Is An Island – We’re In This Together – March 2, 2012
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