As I'm sure some of you are aware, the House passed a bi-partisan amendment to its Budget removing the proposed toll for the Hatteras/Ocracoke ferry run. This was great news, and a stunning example of the power of the grass- and net-roots. But I'm hearing through the grapevine that a handful of Senators are chomping at the bit to reanimate the corpse of this bad idea, and they need to be stopped.
Adding these tolls will negatively impact Island residents in two substantial ways.
First, it will take a huge bite out of each family's household budget: An annual fee of $1,200 just to be able to drive more than ten miles away from their homes, for doctor/dentist visits, to purchase home maintenance items not available on the Island, etc.
Second, and this one could end up shrinking that household budget severely even before the toll takes its bite: The volume of tourists and, by extension, their tourist dollars, will be reduced. Best-case scenario, the toll would only cause a few percent drop in tourism. That would still be enough to push dozens of families over the brink. Worst-case scenario, Ocracoke's economy would literally collapse, and the vibrant little fishing village would turn into a boarded-up ghost town.
Just some stats to keep in mind:
It is worth noting that the median family income in Ocracoke is below that of the state as a whole (34,315 vs. 38,829) and less than that of the US. Some folks think Ocracoke is Martha's Vineyard - it isn't, it is a (lower) middle class community (with high property values due to the scarcity of land). [data from 2000 US census]
The House was correct in amending legislation to avert a potentially disastrous situation, and the Senate needs to respect that and let this monster stay dead.