More ferry facts

July 4, 2010 

I'd like to clear up some misperceptions that might arise from your July 2 article about the N.C. Ferry Division.

It is not true, as former ferry director Harold Finch alleged, that the division had no detailed budget. The division director and business manager have a detailed budget. Finch recommended that the budget be distributed to managers of specific ferry operations, and NCDOT management encouraged him to do so.

The article reported that the Ferry Division received an $11.3 million increase from lawmakers this year when other state agencies experienced cuts. That is true but merits explanation. The extra costs reflect new U.S. Coast Guard requirements, mandated by the U.S. Congress, to increase crew sizes on most ferries and to more than double inspection and repair of our fleet.

Last year, the Ferry Division cut runs and service to help the state reduce its budget, resulting in numerous complaints from residents, tourists and employers. This year's budget enables us to restore service to 2008 levels.

The article left the impression that Finch was dismissed for digging up personnel and financial irregularities. We encouraged him to pursue those issues, and in fact the DOT Inspector General is continuing to investigate. We will take swift action to correct any problems.

Finch was dismissed not because of the problems uncovered, but because he was not making adequate progress on objectives he was given when hired and because of complaints about his management from within and outside the division. We regret that his hiring did not work out and wish him well going forward.

Jim Trogdon

Chief Operating Officer, N.C. Department

of Transportation, Raleigh

The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response.

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