The North Carolina Senate yesterday passed a balanced $21.47 billion state budget.
The budget provides additional appropriations to the Shallow Draft Inlet Dredging Fund, total estimated funding in FY 2015-16 is at $20 million. It reserves $4 million of that fund for Oregon Inlet dredging needs.
While also appropriating $900,000 to the Department of Administration for they can begin the necessary requirements on a long term solution at Oregon Inlet. In addition, Hatteras Inlet has been included in the fund.
Commenting this, Senator Bill Cook said: “Having open, dependable and navigable waterways are needed to protect and allow economic growth in the region and for the entire State of North Carolina.
“The federal government has rarely achieved the authorized depth and width of the navigation channel at Oregon Inlet in the last decade, and if and when achieved, it was very short lived. At the present time, dredging is the only approach permitted, and federal maintenance funds have dried up. Our ports and inlets are avenues of commerce for our state. Therefore, this budget will protect and enhance that commerce.
“The latest study (completed May 2014) on Oregon Inlet suggests a total annual economic impact of 4,348 jobs and $548.4 million in total to Dare County, the surrounding region, and the State of North Carolina. Additionally, the study showed that if the inlet was passable 365 days a year, the total annual economic impact could reach $1.1 billion.
“The study currently indicates an annual state/local government taxes & fees of $23,243,574 million, and if the inlet was stabilized there would substantially more tax revenue for Dare County.”
The budget also establishes a Deep Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Maintenance Fund.
The Department of Administration is requested to negotiate with the federal government to acquire the federally owned property needed to manage deep draft navigation channels at the Morehead City State Port facilities in trade for state-owned real property.