Board reaffirms stand on ferry tollsPublished 1:00am Wednesday, April 3, 2013
By MIKE VOSS
Washington Daily News
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners renewed its opposition to the state increasing some existing ferry tolls and imposing new tolls on ferry routes that currently are free by unanimously approving a resolution.
The vote came during the board’s meeting Monday. Since the proposal to increase tolls and implement new tolls was unveiled, the commissioners have opposed it, as have other local governments where ferries operate.
The resolution states that “ferries in coastal North Carolina are an integral and indivisible portion of the public highway system in the twenty coastal counties.” It also contends the imposition of ferry tolls on worker-commuter ferries creates an inequitable and unfair distribution of the state’s highway system. It notes that residents of coastal counties support the highway system by paying fuel tax, sales tax and other taxes to the state.
The coastal counties have found support for their cause in the N.C. General Assembly.
In February, state Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, introduced House Bill 62, which would make the Aurora/Bayview and Cherry Branch/Minnesott Beach ferries exempt from ferry tolls that were slated to go into effect April 1, 2012, but were kept a bay by a moratorium imposed by former Gov. Bev Perdue.
“My concern was getting those two off the existing appropriations bill that says they have to be tolled,” Speciale said in an interview in February. “It did bring up some concern with Tine and Cook, because the way it’s written, it would allow a toll on the other two ferries.”
The other two ferries refer to the Knotts Island and Hatteras/Ocracoke ferries operating in counties represented by the two lawmakers, Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, and Rep. Paul Tine, D-Dare.
Tine and Cook contend the ferry system is an extension of the state’s highway system, which coastal residents support by paying fuel, sales and other taxes.