By Connie Leinbach
Hyde County is hoping to have a new trash-hauling company in place by the end of July.
Bill Rich, Hyde County manager, reported at the Monday (July 6) board of commissioners meeting that he asked David’s Trash Service to find another company to whom to transfer their Ocracoke trash-hauling contract.
“The trash situation on Ocracoke has been challenging,” Rich said in the meeting. “It’s still not getting done,” he said about timely removal of trash resulting in overflowing containers. “If one of their trucks breaks down, then things get backed up.”
Rich said in an interview Wednesday that David’s is not large enough to handle Ocracoke’s trash and recycling at the county convenience site located beside the Post Office on Irvin Garrish Highway.
“We’ve gotten complaints—about the odor and the volume,” he said. “Ocracoke is a destination spot and one of the most unusual places in the world and we need to maintain (the dump), upgrade it and beautify it.”
In addition, he is looking into having an island trash hauler make regular sweeps of the public trash bins located in several spots in the village.
Also in the commissioners’ meeting, Rich reported on a meeting he, and Kris Noble, county economic development officer and planner, had June 22 with David Hallac, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore of which Ocracoke is a part.
“He asked for the meeting,” Rich said about Hallac. The three rode around the island and looked at different things, especially potential sound-side access sites for swimmers, kayakers, birdwatchers and others.
“He’s willing to make the Sound accessible to as many people as possible,” Rich said about Hallac, and a committee to work on this may be formed.
Rich also said Hallac was concerned at the various vehicles parked long-term at the NPS lot near the south end ferry docks.
“He’s going to clean that area up,” Rich said.
As for the $150 priority pass legislation that’s in the Senate’s version of the state budget, the county commissioners on Monday voted to draft a resolution against this and send it to as many legislators as possible.
This idea, first floated in May by Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Southport), but then not heard anymore of, would allow anyone who would want to board first on the free ferries to pay an annual fee of $150 regardless of if they were local residents or not.
Rich said that it won’t be until mid-August before the differences are crafted into a new budget.
“It’s time to make noise,” he said about the priority pass item in the budget. “We have reached out to our representatives. The Ferry Division is against it and the Department of Transportation in general is against it.”
Also included in the state budget is a “request for information” section seeking business interest in privatizing the state ferry system.
This year, the House got the first pass at a state spending plan.
House Bill 97, the proposed state budget for the next two fiscal years beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2017, passed the House in May. It proposed spending $22.1 billion for the next fiscal year.
When the Senate gave the bill its final approval and sent it back to the House for concurrence June 18, spending was cut back to $21.5 billion.
Since the two versions of the budget do not concur, a committee composed of both houses will be formed to hammer out the differences before a final budget is sent to Gov. Pat McCrory.
Among other provisions of the Senate’s bill, given a yes vote by Sen. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort), are Medicaid reform, the bulk of Senate Bill 160 that creates a local-state matching funds program to dredge inlets, and a provision that, if made into law, would provide the State Board of Education with authority to consolidate local school administrative units in contiguous counties as necessary to ensure that all school systems have the size, expertise, and other resources necessary to provide their students with the opportunity to receive a sound basic education.
Hyde and Tyrrell counties, two of the poorest counties in the state are contiguous with Dare County, as is Currituck County.
To contact legislators about concerns, visit www.ncleg.net which contains all General Assembly members’ contact information and texts of all bills.
Rich also reported Monday that the Occupancy Tax fund is $464,000 this year, up from $442,000 last year.
Ocracoke’s commissioner, John Fletcher, recommended that Trudy Austin be reappointed for a three-year term on the Occupancy Tax Board, which was unanimously approved.