Governor Beverly Perdue says she will issue an executive order blocking new fees on the state's ferries.
Last year the General Assembly mandated that the D.O.T. increase ferry revenue up to $5 million each year by putting tolls on all ferry routes, except for the Ocracoke/Hatteras ferry and the Knotts Island Ferry.
That has outraged many coastal residents. Pamlico County commissioners voted just yesterday to hire a lobbyist to fight tolls for the Cherry Branch/Minnesott Beach ferry, saying many residents use that as a way to work at Cherry Point.
Perdue calls the fees a "ferry tax", and says it would impose an additional burden on the region. The governor's order will impose a 12-month moratorium on collecting the increased tolls on routes already being charged, and on collecting any new tolls on routes that currently are free.
The governor says the coast is recovering from the recession, but at a slower rate because of the damage from Hurricane Irene. She says at the end of 12 months the D.O.T. will review the state's economic conditions to determine whether the moratorium should continue. The order also directs the D.O.T. to find enough budget reductions to make up for the lost revenue.
State lawmakers imposed the new tolls over Perdue's veto. The governor says while the legislature's budget requires the establishment of the new tolls, state law gives D.O.T. the discretion of whether to collect them.
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