- Published on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 23:55
- Written by Super User
The Carolina Beach Town Council adopted a resolution at an April 21, emergency meeting seeking support from the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners to help fund a beach nourishment project later this year using Room Occupancy Tax revenues. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers recently informed the Town there is additional money available to pump sand onto the beachfront later this year.
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers recently told Carolina Beach officials there is money available to pump sand on to the beachfront later this year following the summer season. The Town's 50 year Authorization Agreement with the Federal government is set to expire at the end of this year. This could be the last time Federal money is received for such a project if congressional leaders do not reauthorize or extend the Town's Project Cooperation Agreement. The Carolina Beach Town Council met in an emergency meeting April 21 to consider a resolution seeking support from the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners to use a little over $1.8 million dollars of Room Occupancy Tax revenues to meet funding requirements of the State of North Carolina and to ensure an adequate nourishment project rather than a smaller project.
The resolution stated, "The Town of Carolina Beach has been the beneficiary of a federally sponsored storm damage reduction program for almost 50 years" and the Town, "will lose our Federal Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Program Authorization when it expires on December 31, 2014."
The resolution states, "The Corps of Engineers has received an additional appropriation of $4,800,000 that can be used as the last federal contribution to Coastal Storm Damage Funds for the Town of Carolina Beach" and, "The State of North Carolina has authorized the use of $727,000 to help match the federal funds" and, "This process allows for increased efficiency by bundling projects together, therefore saving substantial amounts of ROT funds by spreading the costs between multiple community projects."
The resolution states, "The Corps of Engineers is recommending that the Town of Kure Beach and the Town of Carolina Beach take advantage of this opportunity to synchronize a combined Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Program in the fall of 2014" and, "The Town of Carolina Beach respectfully requests that the Board of County Commissioners support and approve the use $1,863,000 of ROT funds along with all available state and federal funds for Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Program in 2014."
The Council unanimously adopted the resolution.
Bob Keistler - Project Manager for the Army Corp of Engineers explained April 17th, in a memo to Town Manager Michael Cramer, "We would need to advertise this contract in late June (6/24/2014) to be able to safely make an award in our current Fiscal Year. I would say that we would need a decision on the scope of the contract no later than the end of April. I will put together a more detailed response to your questions tomorrow. I have been out of the office much of the last two weeks working on our FY-16 budget. The Federal Funds ($4.8 M) is all
regular construction dollars. We had some carry over from the last contract to go with additional dollars added in the recent workplan. Let me know if you have any additional questions."
Following the April 21st, emergency meeting of the Carolina Beach Town Council, County Manager Chris Coudriet explained to Cramer, "Our team met this morning to debrief last night’s session and to talk about financial stability of the Room Occupancy Tax (ROT). I’m prepared to bring forward an agenda item May 5 asking the Board of Commissioners to allocate $1.863 million from the ROT to match currently available federal and state funds set aside for sand placement along Carolina Beach. As I understand, this will allow for approximately 500,000 cubic yards of sand placement along the beach and takes advantage of what we must assume for now is the final federal support for nourishment along Carolina Beach. While this is far shy of the last nourishment cycle in 2013/2014 that placed some 900,000 cubic yards along Carolina Beach, we believe a final veneer via maximization of federal funds now helps the overall integrity of the project and its performance through the next regularly scheduled nourishment cycle. If we are lucky enough to win renewed federal support with reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, I’d like to have the conversation about delaying the nourishment cycle until 2016 so as not to exert too much pressure on the ROT. This is a point of discussion for the future."
Visitors to hotels, motels and short term vacation accommodations pay a Room Occupancy Tax (ROT). Portions of that tax are used to fund beach nourishment in Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. Other portions of the ROT are used for tourism promotion and to fund tourism related events that put more heads on beds in hotels.
During the emergency meeting Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained, "I think the question is going to come down for Carolina and Kure Beach is, can we express to the County Commissioners that this is a financially a make-sense deal for the Room Occupancy Tax and it actually is a benefit. Forget the cycle, forget the science. If we spend the money now, is it a better impact now than later."