The Hyde County commissioners last night unanimously approved raising the Occupancy tax to 5 percent effective Jan. 1.
2 percent will be in addition to the 3 percent tax currently levied on
all lodging rentals on Ocracoke–on top of the 6.75 percent sales tax to
all hotel room and rental house fees.
So, visitors paying for lodging starting Jan. 1 will pay a total of 11.75 in taxes on their rentals.
community meetings prior to this one, a number of lodging owners
expressed their opposition to adding to the tax saying it unfairly
targets the lodging industry. They suggested a fairer way to
raise more money would be to raise the sales tax, add a food tax or
further raise the property tax rate to spread the hit on everyone.
a public comment period last night, Bob Oakes, an owner of Ocracoke
Island Realty, said that a survey of his property owners showed the
majority were against it.
He questioned the “rush and full-court press” to enact this tax.
have a problem with something that hasn’t been tested,” he said. “I’d
like to see you slow down a bit and see if the $70,000 (invested in the
Magellan/Element marketing research and advertising plan) works.”
was referring to the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association’s receipt
of Occupancy Tax money last year to hire a professional firm to
research and create a message for island-wide advertising.
Styron, owner of the Sweet Tooth, asked the commissioners what will
happen if raising the occupancy tax rate results in fewer lodging
was said to me, ‘it’s there for the taking; let’s take it.’ I haven’t
heard anyone for it except for our local government and that speaks for
added that singling out Ocracoke to pay more taxes further separates
the island and the mainland and she hopes the county pursues enacting a
law, under the management of a five-member tourism development
authority (TDA) composed by islanders appointed by the commissioners,
this new 2 percent tax will go toward tourism promotion and
other 3 percent collected will remain under the management of the
Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board, which can allocate funds “for any legal
purpose.” Rich said the addition of this 2 percent frees more
money from the 3 percent coffer to support island nonprofits.
it is now, the commissioners must approve the allocations recommended
by the Occupancy Tax Board, but the TDA’s allocations will not need the
approval of the commissioners.
County by law receives 10 percent of the total collected of the 3
percent tax. It will receive only 3 percent of the 2 percent tax
Later in the meeting, the commissioners learned that they would be able to rescind the tax if they want.
addition to this occupancy tax increase, the commissioners approved
raising the county property tax rate to $.0073 per $100,000 assessed
valuation. Put another way, property owners will have to pay $90 more
per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
property tax increase will raise $6,040,000 in property tax revenues,
which down from $6,218,896 last year, according to a county budget
equals a loss of $178,896 in revenue to the county. Rich’s budget
proposal also projects a $85,000 loss in revenues from Payment In Lieu
of Taxes. Instead of government agencies, such as the National
Park Service and the federal Mattamuskeet Wildlife Refuge paying taxes
on the true value of their lands within Hyde borders, these agencies
are allowed to pay what they want.
shore up the loss of income, Rich’s budget proposed that $100,000
simply be taken off the top from Ocracoke’s 3 percent Occupancy Tax
collections. This fund is expected to yield about $480,000 this year.
Ocracoke’s Commissioner Tom Pahl made a motion to delete this from the revenue budget.
opposed to taking this directly from the Occupancy Tax funds and giving
it directly to the county budget,” he said. “We should not undermine
the viability of that board.”
board approved Pahl’s motion and agreed that Rich should take $100,000
from the fund balance and said the county should ask for an
appropriation next April at the same time as all of the other island
law, all North Carolina counties must have a fund balance of at least 8
percent of the operating budget as a contingency fund. Currently, Hyde
County’s fund balance is 30 percent, or about $4.5 million.
was my compromise,” Pahl said after the meeting. “I agreed to go along
with raising the Occupancy Tax but Bill had to take that $100,000 out
of the budget.”
Rich’s proposed operating budget is balance at $15,524,345 in revenues and expenses, which is the same as this year’s budget.
other business, the commissioners accepted the resignation of islander
Teresa Adams as the county’s public information officer, effective July
Her son, Donny Shumate, who is the county information technology director, was appointed interim information officer.