We’ve been had!  The Towns of Dare County are finding out the hard way that our representatives in the General Assembly, Mr. Tim Spear and former Senator Marc Basnight, cannot be trusted.  Spear sponsored the bill in the House and Basnight ushered through the bill in the Senate, which allowed for the controversial 1% occupancy tax increase but the bills were a far cry from the resolutions passed by the Dare County BOC and the Shoreline Management Commission, who supported the measure only under certain conditions.

At the request of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, Rep. Spear and Senator Basnight ushered through bills calling for an additional 1% occupancy tax in Dare County.  Spear’s bill, HB 1945, called for the tax to be used only for beach nourishment projects.  The Senate bill, SB 1298, which is the one that eventually passed, did the same.  On the contrary, the resolutions passed by the Dare County BOC and the Shoreline Management Commission (each Town has a Rep on the SMC), called for the funds to be available for any legal erosion control technique Outer Banks Voice is reporting that no one in any of the Towns became aware of this bait and switch until recently when Kitty Hawk tried to tap into the fund to remove a house on a public beach and was told that their request did not meet the legal requirements.

This leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions.

First, did our BOC drop the ball?  Notes from the May 2010 BOC meeting, the meeting where the resolution in support of the measure was approved, state that Outten advised the BOC that the House Bill may not look exactly like their resolution but that

…the request would go to the General Assembly as a local bill and the County would have opportunity to review the bill from Bill Drafting before it is presented to the Assembly.”

Did the BOC receive a draft of the House Bill?  If so, who received it and what action was taken?   What is the standard procedure within the BOC when sending a local bill to the GA?   Was that procedure followed?

Second, who pressured Spear and Basnight to change the language?  Do not believe for one second that it was a clerical error.  OBV says that lobbyists for the lodging industry requested the change.  I’m not buying that.  Spear and Basnight both knew this was a controversial issue in Dare County and that the Towns approved of this measure only conditionally.  Why the bait and switch?

Third, will you remember this when you vote in 2012?

I suggest we ask Mr. Spear why he pulled a fast one on the residents of Dare County.  Email him, call him (919-715-3029) or better yet, if you’re going to dish out the $25 to see him at the Viewpoint Legislative Breakfast on April 11th at the Ramada in KDH, have him answer this in a public setting, on the record.

Oh, and on that last question, don’t worry, I’ll remind you.