Tram Funding Request Reduced to 70K
The Hyde County Board of Commissioners will meet tonight at 6pm at the Community Center (via teleconferencing equipment from their homebase in Swan Quarter). The evening’s events begin at 5pm with a joint meeting with the Hyde County Board of Education and the Commissioners for the annual funding request for Hyde County Schools. The regular commissioners’ meeting begins when that one ends.
On the agenda tonight is the final, revised request from the county to the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax (OT) Board for funding for the proposed ground transit system (a.k.a. trams) that will complement the passenger-only ferries coming in 2018.
The original request to the OT board was for $216,000 to be allotted over two years. After much community input the board reduced that request to $146,000 – and had some more meetings and got more feedback from supporters and detractors.
Since then, the county has reduced their request to $70,000 over two years ($35,000 per year.) I have heard from a reliable source that this year’s total OT requests (from Ocracoke non-profits and county entities) amounts to about $475,000. But the OT board usually grants about $365,000. Where will the fat get trimmed? On Tuesday, April 4th, the OT board will hear please from the various requesters at 7pm at the Community Center. Curious how organizations spend the money? Come to the meeting and find out.
As for the county’s request for tram funding: here you can find the full official proposal as provided to the commissioners.
According to the document, the trams will be fare-free and offer rides to passenger ferry riders only, and operate May-September. The trams will leave the NPS visitor center area (near the passenger ferry docks) and follow one route up to the Sheriff’s department and back again, turning right and returning by way of Back Road. There will be two trams running at a time, with extras for back-up. The funding request is to help with the tram system’s 2018 operating costs (that will be the first year of operation for both the passenger ferries and the tram), and the document states that this will be the only year the county will ask the OT board for funding. Well, not the “current” Occupancy Tax. Prepare for a push to increase the OT tax on Ocracoke (an increase of up to 2% is implementable anytime with a 3-2 commissioners vote.)
The planning group picked tram stops for pick-up and drop-off in areas they identified as spacious enough for the tram to pull off the roadway. “Transit stops… will likely be limited to a sign, bench, and trash receptacle,” proclaimeth the document.
The stops are:
- Stop 1: Community Square parking lot
- Stop 2: Ocracoke Island Trading Co.
- Stop 3: Corner of Hwy. 12 and Lighthouse Road
- Stop 4: Between Variety Store and Ocracoke (gas) Station
- Stop 5: Hyde County Sheriff’s Office
- Stop 6: Back Porch Lunchbox at corner of Hwy. 12 and Back Road
- Stop 7: Graceful Bakery at the corner of Back Road and Old Beach Road
- Stop 8: Corner of British Cemetery Road and Back Road (What?! There’s no place to pull off the road here.)
There will be two periods for public comment at the BoC meeting tonight.