Regular Columns

Ocracoke: the red-headed stepchild

April 2014
By B.J. Oelshchlegel

As I wrote my letter to the Albemarle RTPO, in response to the idea of increasing the ferry tolls on the southern and western routes, along with imposing a new fee for the Hatteras ferry, I had a feeling wanted to investi­gate. With all of the other perils that we have to face while liv­ing on a barrier island, the so­lution to this vaguely described problem felt like punishment.

I have yet to hear a logical explanation for why these tolls need to be imposed. All I can put together is that the legisla­tors in Raleigh have decided that a certain amount of money has to be generated and tolls are the suggested route to come up with that sum of money.

Why do the destinations ser­viced by the ferry system have to bear the burden of the capital expense for replacing the boat equipment? Are the western counties in North Carolina bearing the burden of the rock slides or the expense of extend­ing major highways into rural areas? What is the total state expenditure for salt and snow removal for the 2014 season? Will I be sharing my tax dollars to ease this burden for them? Will they be called on to indi­vidually bear a portion of this expense themselves?

Herein lies the rub. The distinction of footing this por­tion of the DOT budget goes against the original concept of “becoming a more perfect union.” What is the purpose of government? I enjoyed doing the research and came away with a concept of strength in numbers. Whether it be de­fending the people, provid­ing a safety net for the least among us or providing ser­vices which benefit the whole, more gets accomplished when we pool our resources. So in the truest spirit of this inten­tion, why would we be sin­gled out to bear this expense and the consequences of these tolls? Do all of the small vil­lages with ferry service not deserve to be considered part of the larger population of North Carolina?

With a slight increase in the gas tax–which was de­signed to fund the DOT–this problem could be solved with minor consequences. Why not consider this alternative- -share the burden. I thought that we were supposed in this together.

B.J. Oelshchlegel is a broker for Ocracoke’s Lightship Realty
…before we had a lighthouse, we had a lightship to light the way for mariners.

Categories: Regular Columns

Tagged as: