RALEIGH — Facing a shrinking state budget, the N.C. General Assembly is considering putting various state-owned entities up for sale — including railroads.
A committee on state-owned assets in the N.C. House of Representatives met Tuesday to discuss if the state could benefit from privatizing its railroad industry.
But it encountered opposition from legislators and railroad officials.
The railroad is valued at about $152 million.
“If we sold this railroad, it would be a big mistake,” said Rep. Daniel McComas, R-New Hanover. “It would be short-sighted. We have a huge asset before us.”
Scott Saylor, president of the N.C. Railroad Company, said the railroad runs off revenue produced, and the state receives the railroad’s excess profits, which is about $14 to $16 million annually.
“None of this costs the state a penny,” Saylor said. “The property of the North Carolina railroad is taxable.”
He said 80 to 90 percent of the railroad’s revenue goes toward building bridges, stations and tracks — infrastructure that benefits citizens and the economy.
The railroad’s self-supporting operation has halted legislative plans to sell the industry.