MINNESOTT BEACH, PAMLICO COUNTY - Identical bills proposed in both houses of the state legislature call for alternative forms of income for the ferry system rather than ferry tolls.
H.B. 475 and S.B. 524 were put before the legislature Thursday in an effort to avoid ferry toll increases. It proposes three alternatives to raise money for the ferry system. The ideas are concessions on ferries, advertising on ferry video monitors, and the right to name the ferry ships.
In 2011, the legislature ordered to system to raise $5 million annually through increased ferry tolls. A moratorium was put on the increases by Governor Bev Perdue. That delay is set to expire July 1st, putting the toll increases into effect.
Many in Eastern North Carolina fear what toll increases could do to the local economy and tourist industry.
"The tourist gain isn't so important for these ferries." Oriental commissioner, Larry Summers said. "But when we start talking to the people out in Ocracoke and that. We can see how important it is for them. The more tourists we can bring to Eastern North Carolina, the better it's going to be for all of us."
No actions, other than the filing, have been taken on the bills.
State Senator Norman Sanderson told NewsChannel12 he would meet with NCDOT to review all possible income options for the ferries.