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Public meetings schedule to discuss tram funding proposal

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Hyde County officials have scheduled two public meetings to discuss the county’s request for operating funds for a village tram in conjunction with passenger ferry service in 2018.

Both meetings will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 28) and Thursday, March 9, in the Community Center.

The county is seeking $146,000 from Ocracoke occupancy tax funds to pay for first-year operations for three 23-passenger trams proposed to help shuttle visitors and locals around the village, in addition to what’s offered through private enterprise.

Stressing the importance of attending the meetings, Tom Pahl, Ocracoke’s county commissioner, urged all community members to attend one or both meetings. 

“If you think the tram proposal is a bad idea or if you think it’s a good idea that needs tweaking, we want to hear your voice,” he said.  “We are prepared to significantly modify the plan based on the input at these next two meetings, so please come and let’s talk.”

At an OT board meeting Feb. 9, the county had asked for $216,000 for first-year operations costs, but after that meeting, attended by about 80 islanders, revised its request by $70,000.

The OT board had a working session Feb. 22 about this project with Pahl, Kris Noble, assistant county manager, and Beverly Paul, director of Hyde County Transit, a nonprofit on the mainland that has been identified by the county to manage the proposed tram system, and Hyde County Manager Bill Rich.

At this meeting, where some OT board members said the community needs more information and buy-in, Pahl suggested there be some public meetings to get feedback.

The Occupancy Tax Board (OTB) will consider Hyde’s request at their April 4 meeting along with all of the other grant proposals from island nonprofits. 

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