Op Ed: Sandy Island Ferry and the Coast RTA

  • Tuesday, July 16, 2013

By Bob Anderson

Never have so many picked up the tab for so few! At the July council meeting, after three previous tries, Chairman Johnny Morant and the other two progressives (those who are advocates of redistribution of the wealth) on County Council were able to convince two of the moderates, Councilman Beard and Councilman Charlton, to vote with them to send a letter of support to the Waccamaw Regional Transit Authority / Coast RTA for the Sandy Island Ferry. The letter of support is one of the requirements the RTA must obtain to acquire Rural Development Grant Funding from the USDA (US Department of Agriculture).

The RTA wants the grant to fund the purchase of a ferry and whatever infrastructure is necessary for landings on both sides of the Waccamaw River. I am told that the RTA is requesting $175K grant for the non-recurring portion of the project. Aside from the fact that a ferry is the wrong approach to solving this transportation problem; I, as a lifetime boater, am perplexed that a bus company, with zero experience operating a ferry, wants to go into the ferry business using our tax dollars. It is even more troubling to me that, with the exception of Councilman Oakley, all of my fellow council members have no problem with spending borrowed money that our children and grandchildren will have to repay. Remember, the federal government is borrowing forty cents of every dollar they are spending and this debt will not be paid by those who voted to give a thumbs up to spending the money.

The operation and maintenance money required to run the ferry is the major money pit. Remember, “A boat is a hole in the water in which to throw money.” Currently, we give the RTA $220K per year to subsidize the bus line. You can be assured that the RTA management will be asking that the number be increased once the ferry has been purchased. The General Manager of the RTA has stated publicly that the RTA cannot operate the ferry without financial assistance from Georgetown County.

We are currently in process of reviewing our wage and salary structure to determine the magnitude of our compensation problem and a plan to fix it. County staff is constantly looking for ways to operate within the constraints of the available revenue, so it is very difficult to find ways to re-allocate available dollars to fund any new expense items that arise. Given the fact that we have just raised our taxes, you can be assured that you will hear from me if council finds it necessary to do the same next year without first considering all avenues for cutting spending on what I consider non-essential services.

If and when this once great country fails, I will be placing these five members of council on my score card as part of the problem in lieu of being part of the solution. The position they took on the ferry is a microcosm of what goes on in Washington D.C. on a daily basis. Somewhere politicians have forgotten that they are not spending money that has been given by the citizens. They are spending money that has been taken from the citizens by laws that have consequences if they are not obeyed. If you want to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” use your own money or money that you have collected through donations for that worthy cause.

Bob Anderson represents the Pawleys Island area on Georgetown County Council.

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

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