Correction: The Village of Bald Head Island announced the mayor is not resigning from his post. The mayor’s letter stating he would “step back from government” has been updated by the village to include a clarification stating he is not resigning and won’t seek another term.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY –– The Village of Bald Head Island’s mayor has announced he is stepping back from government service just months before the proposed $54 million general obligation bond issuance is set to appear on ballots in November.
Andy Sayre has served the island’s council for 24 years. In a Wednesday evening announcement, Sayre wrote he was stepping back from office to “pursue more recreational activities,” devoting the bulk of his public letter to advocating for a village-owned ferry system.
Sayre has led the charge this year in campaigning for local control and ownership of Bald Head Island Limited’s ferry system, recently valued at $48 million. The island’s attempts are directly competing with the statutorily delegated efforts of the Bald Head Island Transportation Authority, which is seeking revenue bond approval through the Local Government Commission, an effort island leadership thwarted in favor of their own competing proposal.
However, Limited’s CEO has indicated the company’s aversion to selling to the village. Both Southport and Brunswick County governing boards, which each have an appointee on the state-created board, have passed resolutions in support of the authority.
The LGC is fielding the duel purchase offers, with the village claiming its ability to purchase the system at a lower cost with lower interest rates using general obligation bonds, backed by taxpayers rather than ratepayers under the authority’s proposed financing structure. In total, the village is reporting a $13.3 million overall savings over the 30-year life of the bonds, or $445,000 annually, compared to the authority’s plans.
State Treasurer Dale Folwell has signaled his preference for an island-owned transportation system. Approval of either proposal rests with the Local Government Commission, where the treasurer serves as chairman.
In July, the authority received the results of a second appraisal of the privately owned ferry system, issued after the village, state treasurer, state auditor, and more called its valuation into question.
“Why would we relegate that responsibility to an outside agency where the majority of members are state appointees?” Sayre wrote in his letter. “The present Village Council does not want to micromanage the transportation system. We want the Village to own it, and direct it for the benefit of its users. We need to own it in order to staff the Village Transportation Department with personnel that will know and learn the needs and wants of you, our guests, our contractors and our employees.”
Sayre’s involvement in both proposed transactions has been called into question by his peers. The mayor simultaneously served on the authority and on the village council as the two governing bodies competing on each respective purchase proposals.
Catch up on past PCD reporting on the topic:
- Second appraisal of ferry assets shaves about $3M off value as Bald Head seeks its own bonds
- ‘Playing out the clock’: Bald Head village formally initiates bond process to purchase ferry system
- Savior or sabotage? Village faces pressure from Brunswick, Southport in Bald Head ferry sale
- After objecting to state acquisition, Bald Head Village Council wants ferry for itself
- State treasurer asks Bald Head Limited to donate $47 million ferry system, company denies request
- Trouble in paradise: Bald Head Island Council objects to private-to-public ferry sale
- Deep Dive: Inside the three-year, unique, $47 million private-public Bald Head Island ferry transaction
- Two years in, Bald Head Island Transportation Authority still negotiating ferry acquisition
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