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NC DOT LOOKING FOR WAYS TO BOOST EARNINGS: North Carolina's Department of Transportation wants to start operating more like a business. It's already planning to sell advertising and naming rights for DOT ferry boats and highway-helper trucks to help defray its operating costs. And the state's Board of Transportation is considering charging fees to cover the full cost of the services currently provided to developers and others free of charge.
DOT officials also have more ambitious plans, including charging utilities right-of-way fees for running their telephone, cable and gas lines along highway shoulders as Georgia's DOT currently does and creating special leases for cell phone "micro-towers," 3 1/2-foot antennas mounted on utility poles to boost bandwidth, which Verizon has agreed to pay South Carolina DOT $1,200 per antenna per year for.
"They're looking at deploying thousands of these devices across [South Carolina] over the next five to seven years," Mike Holder, the chief engineer for North Carolina DOT told members of the board at their last meeting.
The various money-making ideas could face an uphill battle in North Carolina's business-friendly Legislature, however. Paul Hickman, president of the politically connected North Carolina Outdoor Advertising Association, for one, doesn't like the idea of paying billboard fees to DOT while simultaneously having to compete with DOT's logo signs for business.
"I think there's a question here about how much we're going to let the government sector compete with the private sector," he said. "And they [also] regulate you." (NEWS & OBSERVER [RALEIGH])
BUDGETS IN BRIEF: INDIANA riverboat casinos would be allowed to build on land and horse racetrack casinos would be able to use live dealers for table games under a proposal approved by a legislative study committee last month. The proposal, aimed at helping the state's gambling operations deal with out-of-state competition, will now be taken up in the 2015 legislative session, which starts in January (INDIANAPOLIS STAR). • The city council of San Antonio, TEXAS has unanimously approved a controversial pipeline project that will transport 16 billion gallons of groundwater to the city each year from Burleson County, 142 miles away. San Antonio has been seeking a way to shore up its long-term water supply for over 30 Years (TEXAS TRIBUNE [AUSTIN]).
- Compiled by KOREY CLARK
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