Tom Pahl: Drop ferry tax

February 25, 2014 

Regarding the Feb. 11 news story “Coastal dwellers defy legislature on ferry tolls”: The state legislature is again singling out the ferry service as the only division of the DOT that would be required to generate its own revenue.

The DOT is funded primarily by the state gas tax and by federal money. Those of us who use the ferry service pay for it whenever we buy gas. Think about this: From Ocracoke to Walmart, it’s 100 miles. Yeah, we buy gas, and we pay federal taxes. So why does the legislature keep beating this drum?

It must be that the ferry service represents such a large slice of the DOT budget that it has no choice, right? Wrong. The ferries account for less than 1/100 of that budget. And the additional amount the legislature wants to squeeze out of ferry riders: 1/8 of that 1/100!

We hear people say that the “free” ferry is a “government handout.” But “bridge preservation” accounts for more than four times the ferry budget, and we don’t hear anyone advocating that the bridges should be tolled. The legislature is wrong on the finances and wrong on the principle.

Drop the ferry tax. It doesn’t work and it’s not right.

Tom Pahl, Ocracoke

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