A local tourist attraction is taking a big budget blow.
For the first time in the history of the North Carolina Transportation Museum, the spot will no longer be run with state money.
Every year, 100,000 people visit Spencer to see the state's transportation museum. Still, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources is pulling the plug on $1.2 million in funding. The museum's funding will be cut in half for the 2011-12 fiscal year and then eliminated the following year.
To maintain its operating budget, museum visitors will be charged for admission starting July 1. Admission will cost $10 for adults and $6 for children.
Eyewitness News asked museum officials if an admission charge could put the tourist attraction's future in jeopardy.
"Initially, there was a concern, but we are trying to look at this more of a transition than a loss," said museum communication specialist Mark Brown.
Kimberly Holt, an after school coordinator for a day care center in Albemarle, said the additional cost per child could add up quickly.
"Hopefully, it won't keep rising," she said. "As long as it stays at that cost, it will be OK."
Other visitors told Eyewitness News they were surprised a fee wasn't already in place.
The admission fees won't raise enough money to meet the total operating cost. Museum officials said they hope to make more money through special events and hosting wedding receptions.
5 Quick Facts About Transportation Museum
• One of 27 state historic sites operated by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources' Historic Sites Section. Located in Historic Spencer, halfway between Greensboro and Charlotte. • Eighteen structures spread over a 57-acre site. Four buildings, including the 120,000 square-foot Roundhouse, contain exhibits open to the public. • A collection of 80 pieces of rolling stock (trains, cars, engines, etc.), including 25 locomotives. Also on the site are three airplanes, a Conestoga wagon, a 1935 Highway Patrol car, vintage automobiles, more than 10,000 small artifacts, and 1,500 pieces in the research library. • Staffed by 16 permanent state employees and 5 temporary state employees. • Benefited by 43 interpretative volunteers, who give tours and explain the history of transportation to visitors, and 104 rail operation volunteers, who restore and maintain rolling stock.