Allen Burrus, Hatteras Island’s representative on the Dare County Board of Commissioners, was the guest on the Radio Hatteras interview show, “To the Point,” on Sunday, July 19.
In the interview, Burrus discusses an array of issues that are important to Hatteras Islanders.
One of those issues is the dredging of the county’s inlets. Severe shoaling of Oregon Inlet has received most of the attention of the county board this year, though there are also problems in Hatteras Inlet.
“About the competition between Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet,” Burrus said, “it’s clear to me that my board right now is very pro-Oregon Inlet.
“I don’t think they know much about Hatteras,” he said. “I don’t think it’s intentional.”
He said “a motivated group of individuals” who own businesses in northern Dare County have kept the commissioners focused on Oregon Inlet issues.
“It’s frankly frightening to me,” he said, “that one group of people has so much sway over the board.”
Earlier this month, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved transferring $1 million in matching funds from the county general fund to the state Shallow Draft Inlet Maintenance Fund to take advantage of money that might be immediately available.
The board wants to enter into agreements and fund them for dredging of Oregon Inlet year-round.
“It rankles me, to be quite frank,” he said, that there have been no days scheduled for Hatteras Inlet dredging.
Burrus also discusses the North Carolina Senate’s plan, which is included in its budget, to change the way sales tax is distributed to counties. The plan is not in either the House or Governor’s budget. Currently, the two chambers of the General Assembly are negotiating the final budget language.
The legislation proposes to shift the sales tax distribution over a period of four years to 80 percent based on population and 20 percent on point-of-sale. Proponents of the bill say that the redistribution will help poor, rural counties by redistributing the wealth brought in by the more prosperous urban counties.
The plan, Burrus said, would be “devastating” for Dare County with its relatively small year-round population, compared to its very high population in the tourist season.
Because of its high summer visitor population, Dare’s sales tax revenues, based on the current 75 percent on point-of-sale, are among the highest in the state. However, its permanent population is only about 35,000, so it stands to lose more revenues than any county in the state.
According to Dare County Finance Director Dave Clawson, county property tax increases to replace the funds that are used to support the county’s budget would range from a 1.77-cent increase the first year to more than 7 cents at the end of four years because of the loss of $9.3 million. Local towns would have to raise property taxes from 3 to 5.5 cents to make up for the loss.
Burrus says in the interview that residents and property owners need to contact legislators in Raleigh immediately to protest the redistribution plan.
The commissioner also updates the planned Buxton beach nourishment and talks about whether Hatteras islanders should have to help pay the estimated $25 million cost.
And he touches on other issues, such as privatizing the state’s ferry system and a plan for a passenger ferry on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route.
“To the Point,” which is hosted by Island Free Press editor Irene Nolan, airs on the island’s community radio station, FM 101.5 and FM 99.9, at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month. It is repeated on the second and fourth Sunday. Those who don’t live on Hatteras can listen to the show on Sundays through live streaming at www.radiohatteras.org.
Scroll down and click on the “To the Point” logo to listen to the audio of the interview.
MORE ABOUT RADIO HATTERAS
Radio Hatteras is our community, non-profit radio station and depends on grants, memberships, and underwriting.
It broadcasts around the clock with news — including such things as surfing and fishing reports — community announcements, music, and special programs. The station is also now streamed live. To listen, go to www.radiohatteras.org.
Our community radio station also needs your support, and you can give that by purchasing a membership or by underwriting the station if you are a business or another community non-profit.
Radio Hatteras memberships are $50 for a family, $25 for an individual and $10 for a student. Mail memberships and other contributions to Radio Hatteras, P.O. Box 339, Frisco, NC 27936.