Lagging salaries in North Carolina’s state government make it difficult to fill jobs that help businesses operate. The budget deal falls short of the salary boost many say is needed.
On the Friday afternoon before Labor Day, Leslie Lanier lamented how the limited ferry schedule has hurt Books to be Red, Ocracoke Island’s only bookstore.
Daytrippers and residents arrive to the 16-mile-long island from passenger and car ferries during the high season. But vacant positions to operate and maintain ferries, coupled with higher fuel costs, drove the nation’s second-largest state ferry system to cut routes earlier this summer.
“Absolutely, we’ve noticed a drop,” Lanier, the store’s owner, said between ringing customers up. “If we can’t get these people to come in here, they’re not spending, and the state’s not getting their tax dollars.”
Two minutes down the road, Daniela Gilbert, the owner of Dajio, the island’s white tablecloth, New American restaurant, echoed her concern.
“You have six, seven, eight lines of traffic just waiting there at Hatteras,” Gilbert said. “We have restaurants that are open and empty, and stores that are open and empty because they can’t get to us.”