Harkers Island, N.C.

Oct.22, 2020

TO THE EDITOR:

I am quite perplexed at your decision to donate $62,916.50 of Carteret County's taxpayer money to Hyde County for dredging in the Big Foot Slough of the Pamlico Sound. If my calculations are correct, Hyde County is contributing absolutely nothing to this dredging project at all. Yet here Carteret County is footing the balance of the bill because it's the neighborly thing to do.

Wow, that seems overwhelmingly kind of you fellas. Yet, at the same time it definitely is very concerning. I also read that Hyde County is going to "support Carteret County's efforts in seeking reimbursement of the local match from the state legislature." Goodness, that just doesn't sound like an iron-clad guarantee that we will be getting reimbursement from Hyde County to me. I know Hyde County has been through quite a lot, but then again so have many residents here in Carteret County. If the county has an extra $63,000 just lying around, there are many areas Down East that could benefit from dredging.

Maybe I am being too hard on Hyde County, and they just can't afford to contribute to their own dredging project. So, I did some digging (pun intended). Did you know that Hyde County's budget in July of 2020 had an estimated record occupancy income of over $600,000? Also, do you know what their plan for that money is? If not, allow me a moment to enlighten you. They are planning on giving multiple small community improvement grants totaling $600,000 to its residents, businesses and municipalities around Ocracoke Island. It seems to me like they could have found $62,916.50 somewhere in there to contribute to their dredging project to protect their own tourism industry, doesn't it?

I find this absolutely deplorable that the citizens of Carteret County are funding a dredging project in Hyde County while they are not contributing a dime. Yet they have well over half a million dollars in occupancy taxes. On the bright side though, they have promised they will help "support" our county in getting reimbursed for our contribution to their dredging project.

Maybe I shouldn't mention that despite its residents making roughly 10% more in annual income than Carteret County residents, Hyde County chose not to raise taxes on their residents this year. Yet our illustrious commissioners already voted to raise our tax rate by 10% for the current fiscal year, and now you want us to vote to add an additional 1/4 percent increase on Nov 7th?

In case no one else is keeping track, that is a total tax in-crease of $8.4 million in ONE YEAR. And that Waterway management fund...guess what it’s for? Dredging. I just don't understand how you fellas can just give $63,000 away to another county for their dredging project. All the while knowing you already voted to raise our taxes here by 10% and finally, have the audacity to ask taxpayers to vote to raise our taxes (yet again) so you can fund your county's dredging projects. I'm certainly no expert, but it sounds to me like y'all are trying to steal the flour right on out of our biscuits!

Maybe I am the only one who is questioning these decisions. In closing, let me just say I'm really not sure what y'all are puffing on in Mr. Cavanaugh's "back room full of smoke and cigars and stuff," but this deserves some kind of explanation to the tax payers of this county and pronto. For now I am just going to file it under things that make you go Hmmm.... (And by the way, Bless your hearts.)

ROBIN ANDREWS MEYER

(21) comments

David Collins

Great letter !

Could be that you are the only one that cared enough to do the footwork and uncover this issue . Now , can’t wait to hear any reply you might get . Should be a bit more than interesting but may lead to more footwork and the connecting of more than a few dots . You know , those darn dots can be eye opening at times .

Sandman

Just like any other government entity, let’s take care of other peoples problems before we take care of our own. It’s a never ending cycle that will never change, no matter who’s in that position.

drewski

Now that is a well written letter, that deserves a response from the cc in the paper. Thank you for taking the time to research and write it.

mpjeep

If Robin’s numbers are correct, and I’m sure they probably are, then why is Hyde County not paying Carteret County back, even if it’s over time?

My original understanding, from June, was the money was needed from Carteret County due to the “urgency” of the dredging project and that the Ferry Division lacked funds from Hyde County to proceed. Now that the summer season is over, and Hyde County has collected lots of money from record occupancy income, why are they not paying us back, with interest?

The only thing Hyde County has agreed to do is “support” Carteret County’s efforts in seeking reimbursement of the local match from the state. C’mon man, that shouldn’t be the way things work and officials that made the deal, from Carteret County, should have more explaining to do.

Bet we won’t hear a word other than Carteret County depends on access to the State Ferry system. Does Carteret County really think this project wouldn’t have been done without our money?

Did Hyde county look into a bond, with low interest rates? Did they look into increasing property tax rates or sales tax?

Come 2021, every government agency, business and individual better save all the money they can, because Biden/Harris will raise taxes on us all, before their 4 years are up.

Thank you Robin for all your research and writing this letter. Well Done. and Thank You!

Sleepwalker

Hmmmm

Bear26Actual

Well written letter and its ashamed that they did this. WE SHOULD KEEP THE CARTERET COUNTY TAXPAYERS MONEYS FOR THE CITIZENS FOR BETTER SERVICEIKE FIRE AND EMS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT. THESE SERVICES ARE AWESOME BUT I AM SURE THEY CAN USE EXTRA MONEY FOR OVER TIME PAY AND NEW AND IMPROVED EQUIPMENT!

Yankeenotion

Regarding the Carteret County commissioners’ inappropriate appropriation of taxpayer funds, let us also keep in mind this is the same group who refused funding to MaST early college, yet found (cough) $20,000 to bring an offshore power boat race to Morehead City *during a pandemic!!* we cancelled the Seafood Festival, which actually benefits actual local charities, but we paid $20,000 to subsidize an otherwise slow weekend at a watering hole known for over indulgence and ignorant behavior. This past weekend we hosted the championship race only because *no other towns would host it!!*

I digress from Robin’s very valid and more thoroughly researched elucidation of excess spending by the counter commissioners, but offer the powerboat situation as another example of wanton, flippant use of taxpayer monies. I mean, are we even surprised anymore? My question is this: which commissioner’s cousin owns the dredge company? As I implored in a prior message: county commissioners: please stop fiscally pleasuring each other at *our* expense!

drewski

"please stop fiscally pleasuring each other at *our* expense!"

Well !! having spit coffee all over the keyboard to avoid drowning with laughter, I award you News times " comment of the year for 2020. "

Sandman

How does dredging Bigfoot Slough Channel benefit the residents of Carteret County? Or does it benefit the tourist industry? Don’t you think that you could have used that money for something other than a handout? I think that before you just toss away the taxpayers money, you should at least have the courtesy of letting them have some input on things like this beings every year, you want to raise taxes and add them on ballots during election time for public input. In case you forgot, there are those right here in our county who are struggling to make it through this pandemic due to business shutdown and you have the audacity to ask for a tax hike so more hard earned taxpayers money can be abused. Like it was mentioned in the above comments, we the people need an explanation of reason why this was done.

Sleepwalker

We need a vice president of a local business and/or business owner to splain this.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

More wasting of Carteret taxpayers money. Will it ever end?

Carteret Native 01

Young'uns there's a place you can go and color in little ovals on a paper and if enough marks are made in the right little ovals you can make a change. Ever consider that? When it comes to politicians, sometimes change for the sake of change is a good thing. Politicians who are too secure in their jobs can do just about anything they would like with our money, and all we do is whine a bit in the online paper and forget. I don't forget and I voted for change.

mpjeep

Okay, native, I voted for change....for Dan Forrest. If the polls are correct, Forrest will not win. Now what do you recommend I do (that's legal)?

Sandman

The online opinion is more than what these so-called politicians have ever offered. When was the last time they had an open forum for the public’s input? I agree that change is better as long as it isn’t for the worse.

mpjeep

I read a Letter to the Editor, in the Oct 28 edition of The News Times, by Eddie Bo Wheatly, titled: You can disagree, but know the facts.

The letter was in response to Robin Meyer, the writer of this letter. Mr. Wheatley explains what and why $63,000 was given to Hyde County and how it benefits Carteret County. Too much info for me to post here.

Mr Wheatly’s main points about Ms. Meyer are:

*She couldn’t be further from the truth concerning money not helping CC.

*Ms. Meyers leaves out how the ferries help employees who, many, reside in CC.

*Ms Meyer’s agenda isn’t a reasonable debate and attacks elected officials.

*She omitted the 10 percent property tax rate increase in 2020 because it is a revolution year.

*Democrats think with their hearts, not their heads.

In closing, Mr Wheatly said that everybody has the right to their own opinion. But they don’t have the right to their own facts.

Interesting…...

drewski

If you can get me a bucket of that I will grow prise roses this yr. No state ferry employees have been laid off. Not because of that loan but because they are state employees, the other points are a stinking pile of fish heads,.....

(Edited by staff.)

Sleepwalker

Didn’t see many facts in wheatleys response...

mpjeep

Once again, with my original post, I jumped in with both feet before doing my homework, and once again, I have changed my mind.

I feel our Carteret County Commissioners were just doing what they felt was the right thing to do, counties working together for the good of us all. They made the choice to help out our neighbor, Hyde county, which is not a bad thing for all us to consider, during these difficult times.

Ferry channels can be just as important as roadways during vacation/visitor times and hurricane times. And over the last ten years, the federal government has budgeted less each year to “our state” for dredging needs.

As Ocracoke Commissioner, Tom Pahl. said, Big Foot Slough is a Federal Channel and is the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge. He feels Hyde county was held hostage given the shake down from the Corps of Engineers requiring local governments to supply matching funds before dredging would happen.

In 2015, the NC General Assembly, submitted a bill called Deep Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Maintenance Fund which essentially allows the secretary of Environment and Resources to waive the cost sharing requirement for dredging projects that are considered emergencies. I’m not sure if our State has endowed this bill or not. If this bill did not become law, the general assembly should act to enable local governments to partner with the state to ensure our resources are dredged.

If anything, we should take out our frustrations on the Federal Government and not Carteret County Commissioners. Big Foot Slough is a Federally authorized channel, which means that the Federal Government maintains it.

Ms. Meyer made some good points in her letter to the editor, but seems to have cherry-picked the situation, with her own bias.

I still support the sales tax increase and you may consider it a “necessary evil”, if you’d like, but the many, many visitors to our great county will share in our efforts to Make Carteret County Great Again!

drewski

Jeep the original parameters are not changed, just because you considered another view. They want a sales tax increase to fund the required co pay on dredging. They gave 60 k to Hyde co. Hyde County will * try* to help us get that money back, from the state.

Helping neighbors is good, but giving your neighbors cash then taxing your citizens forever seems foolish.

Vote NO on school bonds AND NO on sales tax increase.

mpjeep

I kinda see your point, ski, on the $63k. But, with our majority vote, we entrusted the Commissioners to handle our funds in a way that they deemed appropriate. And that is what they did.....nothing illegal.

DunnDone

Money is available through the Federal Government, why would we pay that to another county? When has another county given us funds under similar circumstances?

Craven and Onslow both get a massive amount of federal dollars due to the Military installations in their Counties and have never once given funds to another County.

We enter partnerships with Onslow for Drug Rehabilitation, we entered partnerships with Craven for Library Books. If this is a critical access, why would we not enter the same agreement for dredging?

Hyde can apply for funding the same way Carteret County is requesting reimbursement.

Something is awry...

https://www.ncdot.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/2020/2020-10-22-marine-highway-project.aspx

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