Bob Woodard, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, issued a letter to citizens last week to update them on developments in some important developments facing the county.
Woodward has made a “Chairman’s Update” at the first of each of the two monthly Commission meetings one of his hallmarks. Since there is only one board meeting during July, Woodard said he decided to issue a letter to citizens.
“During this busy time of year, with so much going on,” he wrote. “I thought it would be helpful for you to know what is being done by your Board of Commissioners to address these issues.”
Here s the text of Woodard’s letter:
DARE COUNTY BUDGET
The Dare County Board of Commissioners approved the budget on June 17, maintaining the same level of County services without a tax increase. Included in the County budget is a line item for inlet maintenance to ensure navigable waterways which are essential for sustaining our economy. Also included is $400,000 in additional school funding to pay most of the anticipated pay raises for new teachers, as may be mandated by the State Legislature when the North Carolina budget is adopted.
Achieving a budget without raising taxes was only possible because of a thorough and methodical process that directly involved every Dare County department. In many cases, operational efficiencies were identified and every capital project request was closely scrutinized. The Board will continue to seek ways to manage our budget to provide the resources that are necessary for Dare County’s residents and visitors.
1/4-CENT SALES TAX
The Board has had numerous discussions about ways to secure funding for proactive inlet dredging so that our waterways can be open on a consistent, reliable and predictable basis. The overall economy of Dare County depends on it. The Board of Commissioners favors a 1/4-cent sales tax to fund inlet maintenance and has repeatedly expressed this to legislative leaders in Raleigh. Although we believe that this is the best practical solution, it has not been enacted in Raleigh.
The state Senate’s proposed budget authorizes the County to use up to $3 million dollars for inlet maintenance out of the 2 percent beach nourishment portion of the Dare County occupancy tax. This would not disrupt any of the previous, current or future beach nourishment projects in our communities. The occupancy tax dollars would be matched by funding from the state’s Shallow Draft Inlet Fund.
The Senate’s proposed budget also provides additional money for the State’s Shallow Draft Inlet Dredging Fund, with $4 million of the fund reserved for local dredging needs. It also appropriates $900,000 to the Department of Administration for their effort to secure a long term solution at Oregon Inlet.
STATE BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS
Fortunately, the House is closely scrutinizing and questioning a Senate plan that would radically change the way that sales tax revenue is distributed to counties. This measure would negatively impact every Dare County resident, business, community organization, property owner and visitor by causing Dare County to lose in excess of $9 million per year by fiscal year 2020.
Right now the N.C. House and Senate are working on a compromise that could take weeks to develop. In the meanwhile, a continuing resolution will need to be adopted to keep the state government operating until their budget is approved.
At this time it is unknown what tax redistribution may be included in the state’s final budget. However, the Dare County Board of Commissioners will be in frequent contact with the Legislature and let you know what develops.
Earlier this month, Gov. Pat McCrory made a special trip to Dare County to announce the settlement of the lawsuit regarding the Bonner Bridge so that work on the replacement bridge can finally begin. This was historic for Dare County. Replacement of the Bonner Bridge will continue to provide long-term reliable, stable access to Hatteras Island, which is vital to Dare County and the State of North Carolina.
We appreciate Gov. McCrory’s leadership. A decision on the bridge replacement has been a long time coming and represents the culmination of a decades-long effort by NCDOT, the Dare County Board of Commissioners, and many in our community who worked relentlessly to make this dream come true.
“In closing,” Woodard wrote. “I want to encourage you to continue to reach out to your Board of Commissioners to share your thoughts and concerns. We want to hear from you and can easily be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I wish each of you a safe and productive summer season.”