Nags Head and KDH to raise tax rates
The governing boards of Dare County’s six municipalities have adopted budgets for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year that begins on July 1. The spending plans including new staff positions and notable capital improvements, and two municipalities – Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills – are adding between 1 and 2 cents to the ad valorem tax rate.
Comparing this year’s adopted budgets to the FY 2018-2019 recommended municipal budgets that were originally adopted, four municipalities saw hikes in their General Fund budgets — Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk and Nags Head.
Nags Head will see the largest increase, at 25 percent, as that town prepares for its first payment on special obligation bonds for its $43 million beach nourishment project now underway. Only Manteo and Kill Devil Hills will see a cut in spending, with Manteo’s budget 4.4 percent less than the previous year’s and Kill Devil Hills’ spending plan cut by 2 percent.
The Manteo Board of Commissioners approved a spending plan that includes three new full-time positions, according to Town Manager James Ayers. Those positions are a public information officer/program manager, an investigator in the police department and a general maintenance worker in the town’s public works department.
Ayers said the town was awarded a $150,000 Wastewater Asset Inventory & Assessment Grant by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. “The Town of Manteo continues to seek and procure additional sources of revenue,” Ayers said. “Grants like this $150,000 award will allow us to invest even more in infrastructure and programs that serve our community.”
Nags Head residents will see a one-cent tax hike on their annual tax bill this coming fiscal year, bringing the total tax rate to 31.7 cents per $100 of assessed value. The increase translates into an additional $40 on the annual tax bill for property owners with a home assessed at $400,000. There is no change in the 17.5-cent beach nourishment tax rate in the town’s two municipal service districts or the town-wide 2.7-cent rate for beach nourishment.
“The coming year represents the first payments on the town’s beach nourishment special obligation bonds, which makes up a large portion of the difference from the prior year,” said Town Manager Cliff Ogburn. This year’s payment is $3 million, with a $600,000 Dare County debt supplement toward the bonds.
A water plant operator and facilities maintenance stormwater technician are also part of this year’s budget, as well as the final phase of improvements to Dowdy Park – which includes solar lighting, an additional pathway and an observation/exercise deck. The extension of the town’s multi-use path south of Jockey’s Ridge State Park is also budgeted. The path will connect the Soundside Event site to the traffic light at Gull Street, which will allow pedestrians to safely cross U.S. 158 to access the Whalebone Junction area.
Kill Devil Hills
The Town of Kill Devil Hills’ FY 2019-2020 budget represents a 2 percent decrease in spending. However, the town will increase the tax rate by 1.91 cents, bringing it to a total of 40 cents per $100 of assessed value.
In her budget message, Town Manager Debbie Diaz noted that the spending plan includes funding for the replacement of five police vehicles and a total of five replacement vehicles for Building & Grounds, Streets, Fleet Maintenance and Solid Waste divisions. There are also two new positions as part of the budget – an additional sanitation equipment operator and a fifth group leader position in the Ocean Rescue Division.
Approximately $130,000 is budgeted to update the town’s Water System Master Plan and $857,000 in street-related capital improvements.
The Town of Kitty Hawk will see a 4.6 percent increase in its budget compared to last year’s, but the spending plan holds the line on taxes, levying 34 cents per $100 of assessed value for the fourth consecutive year.
No new staffing positions are recommended in the budget. However, several were requested including a deputy fire chief, additional police officer and part-time public works employee that Town Manager Andy Stewart noted may have to be considered in the future.
Stewart said one significant addition to this year’s General Fund expenditures will be a facelift to the Bathhouse at milepost 4.25. “The town plans a $100,000 substantial renovation,” said Stewart, adding that the improvements will include upgraded restroom and shower facilities.
The Southern Shores’ 2019-2020 spending plan represents a 12.9 percent increase over the last year’s municipal budget, but maintains the tax rate of 22 cents. Town Manager Peter Rascoe said the increase in spending includes $1 million appropriated by the town council for construction of a five-foot-wide concrete walkway along South Dogwood Trail. “The Council also appropriated funds to upgrade Town Hall buildings, and to increase the legal cost appropriation due to anticipated increased legal work for the year,” noted Rascoe.
Legal expenses amount to $100,000 and the line item to upgrade to municipal buildings totals $220,000.
Duck’s 2019-2020 budget maintains the current tax rate of 22.5 cents, while seeing an 8.4 percent increase in spending over the 2018-2019 adopted budget. The new spending plan includes a new assistant town manager position, as well as the replacement of three police patrol vehicles and a fire command vehicle.
According to Town Manager Chris Layton, there is also $724,558 allocated for Phase II of the Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan Improvements and $1.4 million in debt service on the town’s beach nourishment project.